Mother In the Dark: A Novel (Hardcover)
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"Tender and unsparing, this is a novel to hold onto." —Crystal Hana Kim, author of If You Leave Me
“A masterfully written novel, alive and lyrical, a hypnotic rendering of the mess and the tenderness of family life.”
—Claire Lombardo, author of The Most Fun We Ever Had
A novel about family secrets and a volatile relationship between a mother and her daughters.
When Anna’s sister calls with an urgent message, Anna doesn’t return the call. She knows it’s about their mother.
Growing up in an Italian American family in working-class Boston, Anna lives a simple but comfortable childhood--filled with homemade meals and front-porch gatherings in a close-knit neighborhood. She and her sisters are devoted to their mother, orbiting her like the sun, trying to keep up with her loving but mercurial nature. When their father gets a new job outside the city, the family is tossed unceremoniously into a middle-class suburban existence. Anna's mother is suddenly adrift, and the darkness lurking inside her ignites. Her daughters, isolated and trapped with her in their new house, do everything they can to keep her from unraveling.
Alternating between Anna's childhood and her twenties, when she receives a shattering call about her mother that threatens to blow up her precariously constructed life in New York, Mother in the Dark asks whether we can ever return home when the idea of home is fraught with instability. This story about sisterhood, the complications of class, and the chains of inheritance between mothers and daughters delivers an unvarnished portrayal of the fragile horrors of domestic life and a young woman consumed by her past.
About the Author
Kayla Maiuri holds an MFA in fiction writing from Columbia University. Born in the Greater Boston area, she now lives in Brooklyn. Mother in the Dark is her first novel.
Praise for Mother In the Dark
"Striking... Maiuri’s prose is empathetic and remarkable, a meditation on the kind of attention a girl can bestow upon her mother, even when unrequited." —New York Times Book Review
“This is a masterfully written novel, alive and lyrical, a hypnotic rendering of the mess and the tenderness of family life.”
—Claire Lombardo, author of The Most Fun We Ever Had
“The rich and haunting story is coupled with prose just as rich and just as haunting. It’s a novel that packs a punch and will sit with you long after you finish it.” —Debutiful
“A tender and achingly vulnerable story in the vein of memoirs like Educated and The Glass Castle, Maiuri's debut novel peels back layers of multigenerational trauma in a complicated, dysfunctional family. Maiuri doesn't paint her characters as heroes or villains, instead allowing readers to see the love and pain that seeps through the cracks of a family's broken relationships.” —Booklist
“Wrenching and poignant…Maiuri brings nuance to the heavy subject matter: inherited madness, fracturing family bonds, and resentment held in the body, balanced nicely with Anna’s strong narrative voice: ‘I hate that she’s so desperate for love,’ she says of Vera. Fans of Justin Torres’s We the Animals will find a lot to like.” —Publishers Weekly
“[Maiuri] writes insightfully about a child’s perceptions of growing up amid neglect and conflict, and she depicts those conditions vividly.” —Kirkus Reviews
"I was deeply moved by this book about motherhood, sisterhood, and friendship; about love that wounds and sorrow that shapes a life; about the pleasure and strain of a home. A stunning novel by a percipient and generous author."
—Ayşegül Savaş, author of White on White
"I loved every sentence of this exquisite debut. Kayla Maiuri’s writing pulses with emotion and wisdom; it cuts deeply and swells to an ending that moved me to tears. Mother in the Dark is one of those rare novels that will stay with you for a very long time.” —Sanaë Lemoine, author of The Margot Affair
"Beautifully, tenderly written and unsparing in its willingness to engage with all the ways that love and hurt are always and impossibly linked, Kayla Maiuri's Mother in the Dark is an evocative exploration of how we are both haunted and sustained by the people and the places that we're from." —Lynn Steger Strong, author of Want
"A gorgeous novel with profound insights into what keeps a family together and what it takes to shake off the stranglehold of the past, Mother in the Dark casts a riveting spell. You will relish every word.” —Daniel Loedel, author of Hades, Argentina
"Ferocious and fragile, Mother in the Dark delivers a haunting story of the complex binds between mother and daughter, and how uniquely we are shaped by our families. Tender and unsparing, this is a novel to hold onto." —Crystal Hana Kim, author of If You Leave Me
"There is much to admire in this beautifully written, unsentimental, deeply knowing novel. Maiuri is wise beyond her years, and fearless in her exploration of the ways that mothers and daughters are uniquely equipped to hurt each other." —Elissa Schappell, author of Blueprints for Building Better Girls
"Kayla Maiuri has written a freshly imagined, emotionally precise novel. Here is an honest book rich in detail and empathy. Here is an exciting new voice in fiction." —Sam Lipsyte, author of The Fun Parts and The Ask