Take What You Need by Idra Novey
A New York Times Editor’s Choice
Named One of the Best Fiction for Spring 2023 by Wall Street Journal
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2023 by Oprah Daily, Vulture, Today.com, Elle, and Lit Hub.
“A heart-rending book, but also a beautiful celebration of ‘the glorious pleasure of erecting something new,’ be it a work of art or a human connection.”—The Wall Street Journal
From “one of the finest and bravest novelists at work today,” (Vulture) award-winning writer Idra Novey has conjured a novel of “astonishing and singular” honesty (Rumaan Alam) with two determined, unforgettable female voices.
Set in the Allegheny Mountains of Appalachia, Take What You Need traces the parallel lives of Jean and her beloved but estranged stepdaughter, Leah, who’s sought a clean break from her rural childhood. In Leah’s urban life with her young family, she’s revealed little about Jean, how much she misses her stepmother’s hard-won insights and joyful lack of inhibition. But with Jean’s death, Leah must return to sort through what’s been left behind.
What Leah discovers is staggering: Jean has filled her ramshackle house with giant sculptures she’s welded from scraps of the area’s industrial history. There’s also a young man now living in the house who played an unknown role in Jean’s last years and in her art.
With great verve and humor, Idra Novey zeros in on the joys and difficulty of family, the ease with which we let distance mute conflict, and the power we can draw from creative pursuits.
Take What You Need explores the continuing mystery of the people we love most with passionate and resonance, this novel illuminating can be built from what others have discarded—art, unexpected friendship, a new contentment of self. This is Idra Novey at her very best.