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 her remote life through the passing of each season. Her fears and uncertainties about motherhood. The painfully awkward faculty dinners. Her feelings of isolation and failure. And her growing fascination with Celeste: the mysterious ceramicist and self-loving doppelgänger whose internet personality begins as inspiration for Alma before turning into a powerful obsession.
Bold, moving, and darkly funny, The Shame is an ambitious debut about technology, capitalism, motherhood, and the search for meaningful art—a haunting bedtime story and blistering road novel for our times.
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Praise and Prizes
“The Shame is 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.”
“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.”
“The Shame is 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.”
“The Shame is a scarifying portrayal of a particular female madness. Keep your eye on Makenna Goodman—a writer of original voice and genuine talent.”
“We begin as Alma, our narrator, flees her two young children, husband, and pastoral life in the Vermont countryside, heading for New York City. From there, Makenna Goodman’s daring first novel examines what led up to this moment, and how even an existence that many people of my generation believe is the ‘Ideal Life’, of motherhood, of living off the land, of ethical consumption, a life of intention, is still not without its limitations. It’s necessary work, a novel that felt like a distant relative of the all-time great novel Revolutionary Road. The Shame is as exacting and defiant, and at times, as existentially gutting. I loved it.”
“The Shame is a brilliant look at what it means to be a woman in the world right now. In captivating, witty prose, Makenna Goodman writes of the beauty and challenges of rural living, how motherhood and art sometimes collide, and of the insidious ways that technology can infiltrate a life. I adored this fierce, impressive debut!”