KIRKUS REVIEWS "A sharp-witted, topical novel."
BY STACI GREASON ‧ RELEASE DATE: JULY 26, 2022
In Greason’s debut novel, three spurned women hatch a plan to destroy the man who hurt them.
At the advice of her Overeaters Anonymous sponsor, Dani Smith has taken to journaling about her negative feelings regarding the dissolution of her marriage. When she does, she finds that her entries portray her unfaithful rock-star ex-husband, Peter, dying in various painful or embarrassing ways. “Each morning, Dani awoke, heart fluttering, eager to stab, shoot, or poison Peter. She filled the blank pages of journals with the flames of her revenge fantasies until they caught fire and exploded into her blog, ‘Just Deserts,’ with (currently) sixty-one avid followers @just-deserts.” As Dani’s posts get more extreme, they garner more attention, including from other women who have known the pain of loving Peter. Red dated Peter in college before he left her suddenly for another woman—and then began a new relationship with him 20 years later that ended after only a few weeks when she learned she was pregnant and he was married. (Humiliated, Red terminated the pregnancy.) Red finds “Just Deserts” so cathartic that she seeks out Dani—who has just had her troubled 13-year-old niece thrust upon her—and befriends her. She’s impressed by Dani’s sick imagination, but she doesn’t want to waste it on blogs: She wants to destroy Peter’s life for real. The key to doing so may be Sasha, Peter’s current wife and former backup singer. Sasha is pregnant with twins, though she lives in fear that her husband will leave her for her tour replacement. Can these three women find common cause and bring down a guy who has broken hearts all over Los Angeles? To do so, they’ll first have to help one another rebuild their self-esteem.
Greason’s prose is precise and darkly comic, particularly the excerpts from Dani’s blog, which form their own short chapters. For legal reasons, Dani always refers to Peter as Steve, as here, where she fantasizes about poisoning a birthday meal: “Steve went into the bedroom and shut the door. I tiptoed after, listening for a moment to his soft whispers on the other side, and then I went into the kitchen, pulled the Drano out from under the sink, and stirred it slowly into the bubbling red sauce in the pot on the stove.” Though the premise is not entirely original, Greason pushes the plot deep into #MeToo territory in a way that gives it unexpected emotional heft. The characters, though heightened, are complex and believable, and the relationships that develop among Dani, Red, and Sasha—who have all served as “the other woman” in one another’s lives—are engrossing. The novel’s end is right out of one of Dani’s blog posts, and there’s a neatness to it all that doesn’t often happen in real-life #MeToo cases, but Greason keeps the book on the fine line between realism and farce. The result makes for a satisfying read that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
A sharp-witted, topical novel.