We were the universe A novel

Kimberly King Parsons

Book - 2024

"The trip was supposed to be fun. When Kit's best friend gets dumped by his boyfriend, he begs her to ditch her family responsibilities for an idyllic weekend in the Montana mountains. They'll soak in hot springs, then sneak a vape into a dive bar and drink too much, like old times. Instead, their getaway only reminds Kit of everything she's lost lately: her wildness, her independence, and--most heartbreaking of all--her sister, Julie, who died a few years ago. When she returns home to the Dallas suburbs, Kit tries to settle in to her routine--long afternoons spent caring for her irrepressible daughter, going on therapist-advised dates with her concerned husband, and reluctantly taking her mother's phone calls. But ...in the secret recesses of Kit's mind, she's reminiscing about the band she used to be in--and how they'd go out to the desert after shows and drop acid. She's imagining an impossible threesome with her kid's pretty gymnastics teacher and the cool playground mom. Keyed into everything that might distract from her surfacing pain, Kit spirals. As her already thin boundaries between reality and fantasy blur, she begins to wonder: Is Julie really gone?"--

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FICTION/Parsons Kimberly
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Location Call Number   Status
1st Floor New Shelf FICTION/Parsons Kimberly (NEW SHELF) Due Jul 5, 2024
Black humor
Lesbian fiction
New York : Alfred A. Knopf [2024]
Main Author
Kimberly King Parsons (author)
First edition
Physical Description
269 pages ; 24 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Kit lives in a Texas suburb with husband Jad and energetic toddler Gilda. While Kit navigates life as a twentysomething mom, she often turns to fantasies and burgeoning compulsions to escape mundane playground excursions and kiddie gymnastics. Kit is also navigating a rocky relationship with her hoarder mother as well as the aftermath of the death of her younger sister, Julie, three years ago. Growing up, Kit and Julie shared an enigmatic bond that shifted once Kit left for college and Julie, at home with their mother, battled addiction. Parsons (Black Light, 2019) entwines a heavy, haunting past with Kit's present. When Kit's best friend invites her for a weekend away, Kit discovers that the trip isn't what it seemed to be. After returning home, Kit is forced to reconcile uneasy truths about her life and those around her as well as her unresolved grief. Parson's captivating novel is wholly alert to the untidiness of life, and Kit's stream of thought is sensationally alive, a heart-wrenching foray into the complexity of loss and identity.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In the spunky debut novel from Parsons (following the collection Black Light), a 20-something woman deals with grief and the demands of motherhood by maintaining a prodigious porn habit. Before Kit was married, she coped with depression by using psychedelic drugs and having sex with strangers. Now, three years after her younger sister Julie's death in a car accident and overwhelmed by caring for her three-year-old daughter, Kit seeks an escape in gangbang videos and elaborate masturbation fantasies about the men and women she interacts with over the course of her daily routine in suburban Texas. These fantasy partners include her daughter's gymnastics teacher, a scruffy dad who shops at the same grocery store, and a fellow mom at the playground. Her husband, Jad, and her friend Pete worry she's become too isolated, and Pete takes her along on a trip to Montana. Not a great deal happens--Kit's porn habit continues in the Montana hotel room, Pete struggles to get over his ex-boyfriend, and there are some tense scenes involving Fireball-slugging locals. The narrative's best sections share Kit's insights on her past psychedelic experiences and the complicated valences of love: "Maybe talking about a trip is like telling somebody your dream--they have to love you to care about it." There's a beating heart at the center of this meandering story. Agent: Meredith Kaffel Simonoff, Genert Co. (May)

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Review by Library Journal Review

Parsons's story collection Black Light was longlisted for the National Book Award, so there are high expectations for her first novel, a story about sex, psychedelics, parenting, and grief, told through a long look into the mind of the narrator. Kitty, a young mother living in a Texas suburb, is still trying to come to terms with the death of her sister a few years earlier. Kitty's mother has always had hoarder tendencies, but those tendencies have risen to the extreme since losing her daughter. Meanwhile, Kitty's own daughter is a precocious four-year-old who is nevertheless still breastfeeding and sleeping in the family bed, and Kitty's husband is a good guy who is just worried about his wife. All of this is told from Kitty's point of view in a meandering, unfiltered way, but because of that, readers don't get to know any of the other characters. It is a bit of a slog to get through, with occasional insights and humor amid the pathos. VERDICT Stream of consciousness is a literary device that doesn't appeal to everyone, so buy for demand only. Steer this novel toward readers who loved Melissa Broder's Death Valley, Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything Is Illuminated, or Joyce Maynard's The Bird Hotel.--Stacy Alesi

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

A young mother in a suburb between Fort Worth and Dallas wrangles a Texas-size grief. Parsons' debut novel--following the story collection Black Light (2019)--follows 25-year-old Kit's remarkable and original stream of consciousness as it obsessively circles the loss of her younger sister, Julie, who died four years ago while Kit was pregnant. Back when they were growing up in Wink, Texas, where Kit's beautiful mother still lives, the two had a band with their friend Yesenia called You Are the Universe, a name that grew out of their epic psychedelic adventures on the pink shag rug of a boy known as Big Large. As the novel opens, Kit is about to take an actual trip--a weekend in Montana with her best friend, Pete, ostensibly to help him get over being dumped by his partner, Brian. "I instantly recognized in [Pete] the things I saw in myself--here was somebody with a mighty death drive, somebody bighearted who was also kind of a fuckup, someone who was not exactly overflowing with impulse control." Until it's time to go, she's wheeling her stroller between Hidden Wonder playground, Tiny Toads gymnastic center, and the home she shares with her sweet husband, Jad, and precocious Gilda, a tiny tyrant who "can appropriately use debris in a sentence." Kit still loves sex and psychedelics, though these days her one-night stands are fantasy only, and she can't take drugs because she's still nursing. Nevertheless, both are frequently in her always-interesting thoughts: "I am so, so glad I've done acid. Nothing prepares you for childbirth more." "It's possible that nothing makes me want sex more than not coming during it." Along with Melissa Broder's Death Valley (2023), this book seems suggestive evidence of a New Psychedelia, young women writers updating Carlos Castaneda for the 21st century, filling the eternal trippy desert with love and yearning and laughter. Parsons has created a character so appealing in her cheerful brokenness that you won't want to leave her side for a minute. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.