Last weekend, Rob baked some bread. The bread baking is a new-ish hobby for him and I feel lucky that I get to benefit from it at that point in marathon training where 90% of my diet seems to be bread and pasta. I still don't entirely understand how he manages to craft these pretty loaves, but something that I appreciate about the entire process is that it literally takes all day. Before the bread goes into the oven, it seems like a lot of things have to happen (and the process is painstakingly specific, resulting in the need for peculiar thermometers, scales, scrapers, wraps, and baskets). All this to say, while Rob wrangles pounds of flour, water, and yeast into something resembling a loaf, I get to read a lot. I read R.O. Kwon's debut novel during the creation of the pictured loaf (above).
The Incendiaries has been on my TBR list for months and was "the hot debut" last summer. I contemplated buying it from Magers and Quinn in August, but couldn't justify spending $26.00 on such a slim book. You can read it in a day. If you love Emma Cline's The Girls, you will like Kwon's debut. Both novels tell the story of of a young woman's involvement in a violent cult. While Cline's novel describes the experience from the POV of a teenage girl, Kwon's main character is a freshman at an elite American university. I liked this book. I just wish there was more of it! Perhaps the book was too thin for me? I wanted more context, more detail. The story is told entirely from the main character's (Phoebe) boyfriend's point of view, which generally irritated me. I wanted to hear Phoebe's story from Phoebe. I assume Kwon does this to make Phoebe's character all the more unknowable, which I understand. Anyhow, I am definitely excited to follow R.O. Kwon's career. She's a talented writer. This is 3.5 stars rounded up to four for me.
I read this for a few reasons: (1) Roxane Gay gave it four stars on Goodreads and I love Roxane Gay, and (2) Book of the Month selected it as a January choice. I read it quickly--Land's resilience is inspiring. Here's a quick list of a few things Stephanie Land and her daughter, Mia, lived through in this five year period:
Stephanie Land is nothing less than a hero for putting her story out there. Take Maid for what it is, but be aware of the people who are barely mentioned in her story.