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What if you could change your life? Would you do it? How would you do it?
Alma and her family live close to the land: they raise chickens and sheep, they make maple syrup. Every day Alma’s husband leaves for his job at a nearby college while she stays home with their young children, cleans, searches for secondhand goods online, and reads books by the women writers she adores. Then, one night, she abruptly leaves it all behind―speeding through the darkness, away from their Vermont homestead, bound for New York.
In a series of flashbacks, Alma reveals the circumstances and choices that led to this moment. The joys and claustrophobia of their remote life through the passing of each season. Her fears and uncertainties about motherhood. The painfully awkward faculty dinners. Her feelings of loneliness and failure. And her growing fascination with Celeste: the mysterious ceramicist and self-loving doppelgänger whose story begins as inspiration for Alma before turning into a powerful obsession.
A fable both blistering and surreal, The Shame is a propulsive, funny, and thought-provoking debut about a woman in isolation, whose mind―fueled by capitalism, motherhood, and the search for meaningful art―attempts to betray her.
"Goodman riffs on middle-class motherhood angst in her probing debut. Those who feel like they're losing themselves in the daily grind will appreciate Alma's escape fantasy." ―Publishers Weekly
"A haunting, unsettling story of motherhood, marriage, capitalism, making a life (and a living), and the nature of relationships." ―Book Riot, "9 Great Books About Motherhood to Add to Your TBR Pile"
“A delicious, important moral corrective of a novel for our moment of performance, obsessive witnessing, and self-doubt, written in gripping and beautiful prose. Makenna Goodman draws a dark and suspenseful tale out of the feelings of envy women have for one another, fanned in this moment of high capitalism―a shame many of us know and feel, that reading this novel somehow helps disperse.”―Sheila Heti, author of Motherhood and How Should a Person Be?
“Makenna Goodman writes with blazing clarity and admirable wit about the joys and sorrows of raising children. Her depiction of the longing, self-loathing, and quiet rage that accompanies sidelined ambition is brilliantly complex.”―Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation and Weather
“A wickedly smart, wry, raw interrogation of one mother’s choices. In sentences packed with wit and insight, Makenna Goodman’s entrancing debut explores the envy and self-doubt that come with selecting one sort of life over another. The reader shares the narrator’s desperate curiosity about how her madcap adventure will end.”―Helen Phillips, author of The Need
“The Shame impresses one with its intelligence and artistry. What goes on inside a woman remains the new frontier.”―Susan Minot, author of Evening
“Alma’s reckless fantasy, of complete domestic abandonment, speaks volumes about the emotional and physical labor of homestead motherhood. Goodman's debut, an engrossing page-turner, is equal parts psychological case study and searing commentary of parenting and capitalism.”—Booklist
“Goodman devastatingly charts Alma’s anxieties about being a good-enough mother, a good-enough spouse to take to cocktails and dinner with colleagues, a good-enough advocate of all the trendy issues, including climate change and gun control, public versus private schools, organic versus micronutrient-dense foods. The tension builds, pushing Alma to plan her escape, but her journey forces her to face reality outside the filters afforded by social media. An intimate, compelling portrait of a woman under psychological tension.”—Kirkus Reviews
Makenna Goodman lives and works in Vermont. The Shame is her first novel.