A Good Happy Girl: A Novel (Hardcover)

A Good Happy Girl: A Novel By Marissa Higgins Cover Image
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April 2024 Indie Next List

“Higgins’ debut is a pull on the cigarette you shouldn’t be having, the shot of adrenaline you get when you wake up through the daze of a hangover and remember your bad dreams. A Good Happy Girl is a pitch-perfect entry into the lesbian canon.”
— Gaby Iori, Epilogue: Books Chocolate Brews, Chapel Hill, NC


A poignant, surprising, and immersive read about a young professional woman pursuing an emotionally intense relationship with a married lesbian couple, for readers of Kristen Arnett and Melissa Broder

Helen, a jittery attorney with a self-destructive streak, is secretly reeling from a disturbing crime of neglect that her parents recently committed. Historically happy to compartmentalize—distracting herself by hooking up with lesbian couples, doting on her grandmother, and flirting with a young administrative assistant—Helen finally meets her match with Catherine and Katrina, a married couple who startle and intrigue her with their ever-increasing sexual and emotional intensity.

Perceptive and attentive, Catherine and Katrina prod at Helen’s life, revealing a childhood tragedy she’s been repressing. When her father begs her yet again for help getting parole, she realizes that she has a bargaining chip to get answers to her past.

A Good Happy Girl is interested in worlds without men—and women who will do what they can to get what they want. In her exploration of twisted desires, queer domesticity, and the effects of incarceration on the family, Marissa Higgins offers empathy to characters who often don’t receive it, with unsettling results.

About the Author

Marissa Higgins (she/her/hers) is a lesbian writer. A Good Happy Girl is her first novel.

Praise For…

A Bookshop Editor's Pick
Nylon, A Must-Read of the Month
Electric Literature, A Must-Read Queer Book of the Year

Named a Most Anticipated Book by Nylon, Bookshop, Goodreads, LGBQT Reads, The Rumpus, Autostraddle, Literary Hub, & The Millions

"Redefine quiet quitting with Marissa Higgins’s taut debut novel, A Good Happy Girl, in which a young lesbian lawyer with a Mariana Trench-size streak of masochism whiles away her work hours posting online videos of her feet in the office restroom, and relitigating the hurts of her Dickensian childhood via sex and self-destruction." —Leah Greenblatt, The New York Times

"A sad, sexy ode to the complexity of human connection." —Emma Specter, Vogue

"Marissa Higgins has an addictive and uncanny ability to write about devastating topics with a shrug. It’s a talent that’s on display in her original and stylish debut novel." —Sophia June, Nylon, A Most Anticipated Book of the Year

"It’s impossible to look away or not keep turning the page. Higgins, as the novel demonstrates, is enormously skilled at provoking the reader’s empathy for complex, unsavory characters." —Samantha Paige Rosen, Interview

"Fearless and often shockingly intimate . . . What if we just all followed our innermost desires? Cutting, dynamic, and boldly self-assured for a debut, A Good Happy Girl enters a reader like ice in the veins." —Sam Franzini, Our Culture Mag

"Come for the sapphic throuple, but stay for the profound character study, the questions the novel asks without being moralistic, and the razor-sharp sentences . . . This novel does so much and nails it all." —Rachel León, Split Lip Magazine

"Higgins masterfully oscillates between poignancy and the grotesque as she examines the many dimensions of both care and neglect." —Elizabeth Endicott, Chicago Review of Books

"If you’re a fan of Melissa Broder or Sally Rooney, and have ever wished their work was gayer . . . look no further! . . . A poignant, captivating, observant, and very queer narration following a fraught period of early adulthood." —Tiernan Bertrand-Essington, Queerty

"I am a sucker for any sapphic literary fiction, but the malaise of the protagonist and her unique voice quickly drew me in . . . Helen’s voice is entirely singular, and you’ll keep reading not only because of the impeccable sentences—each one carrying so much weight—but also to find out how deep into desperation Helen will let herself slip before asking to be saved." —Kim Narby, Write or Die

“This is a work of textures, of excess, of grease, of desire. It is a portrait of pleasure as punishment and punishment as pleasure, a gluttonous urge for more until both small joys and small discomforts are compounded into the same nauseating grotesquerie.” —Drew Burnett Gregory, Autostraddle

"One of the sexiest, most sensual, and sapphic books in recent memory . . . Come for the tantalizing text but stay for the subtle, soft humane moments in between." —Adam Vitcavage, Debutiful

"[A] striking and visceral debut . . . Higgins expertly captures the longing and self-loathing that drive Helen’s masochism . . . The results are as captivating as they are disturbing." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Higgins' captivating debut is a disturbing, intimate look at the mind of a young woman struggling mightily to maintain a semblance of normalcy . . . By turns heart-wrenching, upsetting, and racy, this is a unique take on trauma and broken relationships." —Booklist

"A moving portrait of Helen’s suffering and the potential for healing she finds in the 'warm cruelty' of her chosen family . . . A provocative read." —Kirkus Reviews

"Sometimes I could not believe how easily this book moved from gross-out sadism into genuine sympathy. Totally surprising, totally compelling. I loved it." —Halle Butler, author of The New Me

"In A Good Happy Girl, Marissa Higgins writes beautifully about the painful responsibilities that warp our relationships. This novel is equal parts erotic and grotesque and humane. Higgins writes gracefully about queerness and contradiction, bringing tenderness to the regrets that shape a young life." —Isle McElroy, author of People Collide and The Atmopsherians

"A Good Happy Girl is at once a darkly erotic tale, a portrait of a woman on the brink, and a searching exploration of intergenerational poverty and abuse. This is a taut, thorny, and utterly thrilling debut." —Antonia Angress, author of Sirens & Muses

"A Good Happy Girl offers an unwavering look at a young woman for whom wavering has been a way of life. Higgins's heroine makes for a compellingly prickly protagonist, an uncertain someone who the reader nonetheless wants so much to hug. This keen-edged gem of a novel limns the sometimes erotic, often quixotic quest to transcend oneself while trying to retain one's own personhood." —Michelle Hart, author of We Do What We Do in the Dark

"An intensely queer and disarming story about unconventional love. Marissa Higgins’s debut is superbly sad, sapphic, and sexy." —Emily Austin, author of Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead

"Combining the bleak New England edge of Ottessa Moshfegh's Eileen with the sapphic psychodrama of Yorgos Lanthimos's The Favourite, Marissa Higgins's A Good Happy Girl is fearless, twisted, and shockingly tender. A fantastic and moving debut." —Anna Dorn, author of Exalted
Product Details
ISBN: 9781646221974
ISBN-10: 1646221974
Publisher: Catapult
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2024
Pages: 256
Language: English