"Blazingly original, wry, and perfectly attuned to the oddness—and the profundity—of life” (Cristina Henríquez), Claire Luchette's debut, Agatha of Little Neon, is a novel about yearning and sisterhood, figuring out how you fit in (or don’t), and the unexpected friends who help you find your truest self
Agatha has lived every day of the last nine years with her sisters: they work together, laugh together, pray together. Their world is contained within the little house they share. The four of them are devoted to Mother Roberta and to their quiet, purposeful life.
But when the parish goes broke, the sisters are forced to move. They land in Woonsocket, a former mill town now dotted with wind turbines. They take over the care of a halfway house, where they live alongside their charges, such as the jawless Tim Gary and the headstrong Lawnmower Jill. Agatha is forced to venture out into the world alone to teach math at a local all-girls high school, where for the first time in years she has to reckon all on her own with what she sees and feels. Who will she be if she isn’t with her sisters? These women, the church, have been her home. Or has she just been hiding?
Disarming, delightfully deadpan, and full of searching, Claire Luchette’s Agatha of Little Neon offers a view into the lives of women and the choices they make.
About the Author
Claire Luchette has published work in the Virginia Quarterly Review, the Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and Granta. A 2020 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, Luchette graduated from the University of Oregon MFA program and has received grants and scholarships from MacDowell, Yaddo, the Millay Colony for the Arts, Lighthouse Works, the Elizabeth George Foundation, and the James Merrill House. Agatha of Little Neon is Luchette’s first novel.
A Vogue Best Book of the Year
A Summer Reading Pick: O Magazine, Vogue, Refinery29, Lit Hub
A Publishers Weekly Writer to Watch, Fall 2021
“Sublime . . . A literary version of Sister Act by way of Wes Anderson.”
“An enchanting, sparkling book about the many meanings of sisterhood, Claire Luchette's Agatha of Little Neon is an effervescent treat of a novel, a reminder that there are many different ways in which we protect ourselves from the world without actually confronting what it is that makes us vulnerable.”
—Kristin Iversen, Refinery29
“Written in a bracing, acerbic, and darkly comic tenor, [Agatha of Little Neon] is a surprisingly buoyant and fast-paced read, a modern and sly spin on the meaning of devotion.”
—Chloe Schama, Vogue
"Vibrant . . . A charming and incisive debut."
“[A] dynamic and resonant debut . . . Employing . . . shimmering prose, Luchette [creates] a lovely story of how cross-cultural exchange can foster hope and fruitful advancements. This is charming and remarkably thoughtful.”
“I never knew I needed a book about four Catholic sisters reassigned to a neon-painted halfway house in a former mill town, but reader, I did . . . Luchette’s writing is both wry and earnest, which might be my favorite combination.”
—Eliza Smith, Lit Hub
“Agatha of Little Neon is the rare kind of book that reads like a transmission from a person you don’t know, but who is already nestled close to your heart. Full of small devotions, pith and vigor, and a bounty of tender feeling for a world that is not quite as full of grace as it could be, this bold debut shines with a light all its own and announces Claire Luchette as a true original and a voice to follow closely.”
—Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
“There’s not a false step in this novel of sisterhood, belonging, and what it means to choose a life for yourself. Agatha of Little Neon is a brilliant testament to Claire Luchette’s skill and original voice.”
—Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers
“Claire Luchette is so wildly talented that I would follow them anywhere. Here, it’s to Woonsocket along with four women who are searching for meaning and a sense of belonging from each other and the world beyond. The result is a novel that’s blazingly original, wry, and perfectly attuned to the oddness—and the profundity—of life.”
—Cristina Henríquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans
“Claire Luchette is a dazzlingly gifted new voice, a master at balancing a sneaky deadpan wit with deep and genuine pathos. Agatha of Little Neon brilliantly mixes the sacred and the transgressive, the solemn and the absurd, and the profound, contradictory longings for belonging and independence. This book is a moving meditation on how to be a woman in the world—and how to be a human.”
—Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Dreamers