If you liked Arnett's first novel, Mostly Dead Things, you'll love this one! She does flawed characters so well - I'm able to hate them and feel for them depending on the page. As someone with two moms, I found it fist-pumpingly refreshing to see a very real, albeit not the most successful, depiction of lesbian parenthood. Our main character, ripped away from the impulse to make queer characters 'good,' is messy and brutal; I couldn't put her down!
Beginning with a hot summer trip in the middle of the city, Natsu hosts her sister and young niece, the latter who refuses to talk but spills her heart out about the fears of puberty onto the pages of her journal. Ten years later and in another sweltering summer, Natsu begins a rocky path towards motherhood as her fears of growing older and lonelier mirror that of her niece's past. Her journey reveals the complications that stand in the way of a single woman desiring a life that does not depend on the conventional company of men, especially in a world so ready to dispose of women at a certain age.
This is a book that can be read in one sitting, slowly devoured over multiple sessions, or opened periodically at a random essay to find some bizarre, whimsical, yet realistic and refreshing gem. Somehow this book manages to feel both sacred and sacrilegious, making for a beautiful marriage of the two. Perfect for mothers, the mother-adjacent, or anyone fascinated by the strange world of children.