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Publisher's Summary

Three generations of women strive for real freedom in this startling, provocative novel exploring sexuality, gender, and maternal ambivalence, from the acclaimed author of The Best Kind of People.

“Whittall addresses motherhood and autonomy in ways I've never seen done before. A fascinating stunner of a novel, The Spectacular is exactly that: spectacular!” (Kristen Arnett, author of With Teeth)

It’s 1997, and Missy is a cellist in an indie rock band on tour across America. At 22 years old, she gets on stage every night and plays the song about her absent mother that made the band famous. As the only girl in the band, she’s determined to party just as hard as everyone else, loving and leaving a guy in every town. But then she meets a tomboy drummer who is hard to forget, and a forgotten flap of cocaine strands her at the border.

Fortysomething Carola is just surfacing from a sex scandal at the yoga center where she has been living when she sees her daughter, Missy, for the first time in 10 years - on the cover of a music magazine.

Ruth is 83 and planning her return to the Turkish seaside village where she spent her childhood. But when her granddaughter, Missy, winds up crashing at her house, she decides it’s time  that the strong and stubborn women in her family find a way to understand one another again.

In this sharply observed novel, Zoe Whittall captures three very different women who each struggle to build an authentic life. Definitions of family, romance, gender, and love will radically change as they seek out lives that are nothing less than spectacular.

©2021 Zoe Whittall (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Whittall’s knockout novel is a multigenerational riot of grrrlhood and womanhood, a brisk and wistful tour through the ambivalence of responsibility." (Oprah Daily)

"The Spectacular is an homage to womanhood, motherhood, sexuality, and queerness as it chronicles the lives of three ferociously strong protagonists who are wildly different from one another." (Associated Press)

"Zoe Whittall’s taut novel The Spectacular has all the trappings to become the season’s dishiest read. It’s also a gem of literary fiction.... In Whittall’s smart and capable hands, these unconventional women are given the space to experience their full, complicated lives." (BookPage)

What listeners say about The Spectacular

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