Clara Sverdlow has been stalked by Niko Kamenski, her high-school lover, for almost 20 years. Struggling to escape his menacing presence in her life and the shadow of the Holocaust — her father was a Russian political prisoner at Auschwitz — Clara has abused pills and liquor to numb herself. But now, following a stay at a rehab facility, she is sober and pregnant, having fallen in love with Mark, a fellow rehab patient. Clara and Mark are building a new life, but Niko refuses to leave her alone. Jones is masterful at creating a villain who is terrifying and yet sympathetic, showing us how a boy terrorized by an abusive father turns into a brutal stalker. This literary thriller keeps you breathless.
“Kaylie Jones, one of America’s finest young novelists, has written a tale that exhibits all her considerable strengths — a dark and powerful story, a compelling hero, and language clear and deep as a New England pond. Speak Now is a rich and splendid book.” -Roger Rosenblatt
“Perceptive, gritty, and compelling, this is an absorbing book that dives headfirst into issues facing recovering addicts . . . beautifully written and richly detailed.” -Library Journal
This ambitious new novel examines the Holocaust by addressing the pall it casts on successive generations. Clara Sverdlow, an Ivy League-educated daughter of survivors, has always felt dislocated and has, for more than 20 years, dulled her discomfort with amphetamines and alcohol. Unable to fathom the abuse her father and aunt experienced, she takes addled refuge in the arms of boyfriend Niko Kamenski. Unfortunately, Kamenski is deranged, and over the years their relationship has taken an array of frightening turns. Clara needs help badly, and when she’s in rehab and meets Mark-a twin whose brother recently overdosed-the two hook up. A child is born nine months later. Perceptive, gritty, and compelling, this is an absorbing book that dives headfirst into issues facing recovering addicts. Shorn of 12-step language, the book never descends into recovery speak but instead grapples with issues including parenthood, loyalty, friendship, and trust. Beautifully written and richly detailed, it is highly recommended for all libraries.
– Eleanor J. Bader (LIBRARY JOURNAL)