Quickening. In this impressive debut novel, Brown explores a young woman’s emotional upheavals with sincerity and grace. -People Magazine


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In 1985, in rundown upstate Ransomeville, N.Y., Miranda “Mandy” Boyle is preparing to depart for college. Finally, she will be able to escape from her hypochondriacal mother, who crushes Mandy under the weight of her obsessive scrutiny. Once at Albany State, Mandy’s dreams of privacy and the opportunity to reinvent herself are realized, at least in part. But tragedy strikes when Mandy’s father’s dies. An enormously obese barroom philosopher whom she adores, he had been her intellectual mentor, and Mandy thinks that she has been bereft of the wrong parent.

Feeling abandoned and helpless, she resists her nagging mother’s demands to come home and her roommate’s pleas that she get counseling. Instead, she throws herself into the arms of “the one person I didn’t need forgiveness from,” another fugitive from Ransomeville, a drainage ditch cleaner named Booner who convinces her to move into his filthy apartment in New York City. In addition to an office job, Mandy signs up for a photography class, using her father’s old 35-millimeter camera and learning to see her world in new ways. But an unwanted pregnancy seems to presage a future with Booner that for the first time she has the insight and courage to resist. With the nearly Sisyphean task of overcoming her dismal past, Mandy is a heroine worth rooting for. When she recognizes the power of choice in determining her own course in life, most readers will cheer, even if the path she ultimately chooses would not be acceptable to everyone.


Before. America's most acclaimed writers express the confusion, elation, apprehension, and joy of pregnancy and childbirth.

Short Stories About Pregnancy From Our Top Writers
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Mothers and fathers now face the usual anxieties about difficult pregnancies, financial planning, and the inevitable Lamaze classes, alongside new worries about balancing the professional and artistic goals of two independent parents with the responsibilities of parenthood, struggles with fertility and modern fertility treatments, and explaining a pregnancy of an untraditional couple–or a single woman–to family and friends.

In this groundbreaking anthology of short fiction…America’s most popular and critically-acclaimed young writers…give voice to the fear, frustration, hope and humor that all play a part in the simultaneously unique and timeless experience of pregnancy in twenty-first-century America.

Reading these essays is like having a girls’ night out with your best friends—only much, much funnier, and without the hangover the next day.
The Bigger the Better, the Tighter the Sweater

21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image, and Other Hazards of Being Female
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Getting undressed for the dreaded seventh-grade gym class. Feeling fascinated with, yet disgusted by, the fashion magazines full of perfect, unattainable bodies. Enduring the pain of a bikini wax or suffering the ramifications of overplucked brows.

Like all women, the contributors to The Bigger the Better, the Tighter the Sweater have been there and lived to tell the tale. With laugh-out-loud essays on such topics as the hell of puberty; fashion errors and triumphs; rolls, jiggles, and dimples; the positives and pitfalls of cosmetic surgery; and beauty standards across different races and cultures, readers will feel that they are sitting down with their girlfriends for a funny, honest, and thought-provoking conversation about our complex relationships with our bodies.

With smarts, wit, and style, this collection captures the double bind of beauty and body image that women contend with each day.