From the author of Girls on Fire comes a psychologically riveting novel centered around a woman with no memory, the scientists invested in studying her, and the daughter who longs to understand.
Who is Wendy Doe? The woman, found on a Peter Pan Bus to Philadelphia, has no money, no ID, and no memory of who she is, where she was going, or what she might have done. She’s assigned a name and diagnosis by the state: Dissociative fugue, a temporary amnesia that could lift at any moment—or never at all. When Dr. Benjamin Strauss invites her to submit herself for experimental observation at his Meadowlark Institute for Memory Research, she feels like she has no other choice.
To Dr. Strauss, Wendy is a female body, subject to his investigation and control. To Strauss’s ambitious student, Lizzie Epstein, she’s an object of fascination, a mirror of Lizzie’s own desires, and an invitation to wonder: once a woman is untethered from all past and present obligations of womanhood, who is she allowed to become?
To Alice, the daughter she left behind, Wendy Doe is an absence so present it threatens to tear Alice’s world apart. Through their attempts to untangle the mystery of Wendy’s identity—as well as Wendy’s own struggle to construct a new self—Wasserman has crafted a jaw-dropping, multi-voiced journey of discovery, reckoning, and reclamation.
Searing, propulsive, and compassionate, Mother Daughter Widow Wife is an ambitious exploration of selfhood from an expert and enthralling storyteller.
Robin Wasserman is the author of Girls on Fire, an NPR and BuzzFeed Best Book of the Year. She is a graduate of Harvard College with a Master’s in the history of science. She lives in Los Angeles, where she writes for television.
“For a novel so steeped in questions of identity, and so engaged in exploring how the roles we inhabit—and are forced to inhabit—inform the construction of self, it’s fitting that Mother Daughter Widow Wife satisfies on a multitude of seemingly incongruent levels: as riveting page-turner; as psychologically rich and emotionally nuanced portrait of intersecting lives; as intellectually dazzling meditation on memory and trauma. As in the novels of Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Lethem, and Dana Spiotta, these elements are somehow seamlessly fused. I’d venture the reason is Wasserman’s prose, which moves at the speed of synapses firing, and is spunky and lyrical and beautifully, humanly alive.” —Adam Wilson, author of Flatscreen and What’s Important Is Feeling
Praise for Girls on Fire
"Explores the line where close female friendships can blur into obsession and self-obliteration...At the heart of the dark story is an intoxicating and all-consuming friendship between two teenage girls." —The New York Times
"A perfectly constructed literary novel...nearly impossible to put down...Girls on Fire is an inferno—it's brutally gorgeous, and you know it could explode anytime, but you can't turn away, even for a second." —NPR
"An enthralling, gritty, and altogether unpredictable read that holds nothing back...You will be utterly riveted." —Buzzfeed
“An enveloping page-turner.” —Associated Press
“’She was making fun of me, or she wasn’t. She was like me, or she wasn’t,’ says Hannah, spidey senses already tingling, after her first extended hang-out with Lacey. It’s one of several sharp, spot-on lines about the frailty of teen friendships that Wasserman employs throughout the book.... [Wasserman proves her] own black-magic mettle by conjuring up an era where ill-informed paranoia (and just plain ding-dongness) turned some of the quietest corners of America into fear factories, full of deep-rooted distrust and misspent rage.” —Wired
“As intense as adolescence and as dark as a dream.... Girls on Fire is a mystery and a tangled love triangle and a sharp, ruthless thriller, and it’s satisfying and troubling on all these levels.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
“Deliciously digestible.... [Girls on Fire has] an undeniably dark, voyeuristic appeal: we get to watch universal emotions manifest with extreme outward ferocity.” —Elle
“Part murder mystery, part love story, this page-turner explores the dark side of the all-consuming friendship between a wide-eyed good girl and a grunge-worshipping rebel.” —Cosmopolitan