‘Give Me Your Hand’ by Megan Abbott – Two Friends and Rivals in the Laboratory

Give Me Your Hand’ by Megan Abbott (2018) – 342 pages

‘Give Me Your Hand’ is the harrowing story of two woman scientists, Kit Owens and Diane Fleming, who became good friends in high school and later are members of the same medical research team. The story alternates between ‘Then’ in high school and ‘Now’ ten years later in the research lab. Kit Owens is from a poor background and has had to struggle to achieve anything. Diane Fleming is from a well-to-do family and has always been treated as the perfect one by teachers and others. Diane inspired Kit to new heights of academic achievement. Now they are both working on a medical project involving PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) which is a severe form of PMS with symptoms of wild mood swings, intense anger toward others, and even violent behavior. Both Kit and Diane are terribly ambitious, and Kit quotes one of her idols Marie Curie:

My head is so full of plans that it seems aflame.”

This is a psychological thriller. Diane has a dark secret from her past which she has disclosed only to Kim, and Kim could destroy her by telling another person at any time. Along the way we meet others who work in the lab including a couple of men and Dr. Lena Severin, the woman who leads the project.

All of us toiling years in the lab, our necks permanently crooked over microscopes, our faces cadaverous from never seeing the sun.”

This is classic Megan Abbott if there is such a thing (I’ve read two of her previous novels) involving sharp conflicts between young women. The movies are starting to come after Abbott’s work with three of her novels being filmed, and she is a writer for the HBO series ‘The Deuce’. Her work is usually classified as crime fiction and she has won the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award.

I found ‘Give Me Your Hand’ a bit too simplistic and sketchy to be totally satisfying as a novel for me, but it is probably ideal to be used as the basis for a movie. My reaction to Abbott’s work is similar to my reaction to Stephen King’s work. The prose gets a little too breathless at times for it to be totally convincing as a literary novel. I do like the visceral intensity and obsession of Megan Abbott’s novels and will probably continue to read them in the future.

 

Grade : B

 

4 responses to this post.

  1. Hmmm… I have a strong aversion to any book featuring ‘a dark secret from the past’. Probably not for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Hi Lisa,
      Yes, I expect you would not like it. Like Stephen King, it’s is somewhat formulaic.

      I have just spent the last half hour reading this long Guardian article about summer book recommendations by authors – Part 2. I got a lot of good leads, but I gave up before I got to the end because there are just too many recommendations. I will come back to it later.

      Like

      Reply

  2. It doesn’t sound top-flight Abbott (I’ve written up a couple of hers at mine). More second tier. I do enjoy her work though.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Hi Max,
      I felt ‘Give Me Your Hand’ was a little too calculated as a novel to be made into a movie. I have read two other Megan Abbotts, and I rated both of them higher than this one.

      Like

      Reply

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