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Publisher's Summary

"A gripping read.... Unabashedly queer, probing and unafraid.... Exceedingly engaging." (USA Today)

"Sublimely weird, fluently paced, brazenly funny and gayer still, and it richly deserves to find readers." (New York Times)

From the author of the New York Times best-selling sensation Mostly Dead Things: a surprising and moving story of two mothers, one difficult son, and the limitations of marriage, parenthood, and love

If she’s being honest, Sammie Lucas is scared of her son. Working from home in the close quarters of their Florida house, she lives with one wary eye peeled on Samson, a sullen, unknowable boy who resists her every attempt to bond with him. Uncertain in her own feelings about motherhood, she tries her best - driving, cleaning, cooking, prodding him to finish projects for school - while growing increasingly resentful of Monika, her confident but absent wife. As Samson grows from feral toddler to surly teenager, Sammie’s life begins to deteriorate into a mess of unruly behavior, and her struggle to create a picture-perfect queer family unravels. When her son’s hostility finally spills over into physical aggression, Sammie must confront her role in the mess - and the possibility that it will never be clean again. 

Blending the warmth and wit of Arnett’s breakout hit, Mostly Dead Things, with a candid take on queer family dynamics, With Teeth is a thought-provoking portrait of the delicate fabric of family - and the many ways it can be torn apart. 

©2021 Kristen Arnett (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Darkly funny yet sobering.” (Elle) 

“As With Teeth spins through its insightful portrayal of queer parenthood, the struggle for identity and autonomy amidst the disintegration of a marriage, Kristen Arnett keeps us guessing until the final moment.” (Los Angeles Review of Books)

“There is no book I wish had come out sooner.... Arnett’s sense of humor and celebration of queerness, absurdity, Florida heat and outsidership [feels] like permission to live with more joy and less fear.” (T Kira Madden, Bustle)

Featured Article: The Best Vacation Listens for the Dwindling Days of Summer


Warm days and lazy afternoons—there’s nothing like summer vacation. And unwinding on the deck, beside the pool, or on the beach with a good audiobook is simply one of life’s greatest pleasures. As autumn rapidly approaches, we’ve been trying to squeeze in just a little bit more summer before the leaves begin to brown. There’s still plenty of time for enjoying a vacation—and finding the perfect listen to accompany you!

What listeners say about With Teeth

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
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Spoiler Alert!

I was really invested in the characters in this story but the ending fell flat! There were a lot of loose ends just left to the imagination.

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What an awful story

I would not recommend this book at. The story has no plot. The characters are unlikeable and there was no ending, the book seemed to suddenly stop.

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Relatable

With Teeth would have been really hard to read freshly-divorced. I think the feels would have been a bit too potent for me to read even a couple years after my own divorce. I really like how Kristen shares insights from different perspectives because two people can definitely have mismatched truths and still both be valid. So much of this book was so relatable and I’m so glad to have so many unpleasant things present in this story because this is what life is sometimes. Sometimes it’s messy. It made me nervous and uncomfortable in a tolerable way. I also wanted to root for people. I wanted to yell at them for being so stupid/neglectful. I wanted to hug them. I wanted to share a glass of wine and talk about how much it all hurts. Very much looking forward to discussing in book club.

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Mixed Feelings Overall

This review may contain spoilers.

First off, I enjoyed the narration of this book. The narrator did well in helping me to feel immersed in the story, and I felt like she fit with the main character’s voice. Some “gruff” voices of characters can sometimes sound indistinguishable or really close at times, but I liked the different tones the reader had with the different characters in the book.

As for the story itself, I felt that I had a lot of questions after listening.

The depiction of Florida in the story felt as if I was living in a different place altogether from the main character, Sammie, who basically described living in a sticky, sweltering, bug-infested swamp of a state no matter the time of year. I suppose the negative attitude toward her surroundings was a reflection of her attitude of her situation at home with her wife, Monika, and her son, Samson.

Personally, I felt that almost all of the characters were unlikeable, and, like a previous review had mentioned, had no redeeming qualities. Although he was meant to be unlikeable from Sammie’s point of view, I actually adored Samson. I loved his mischief, and I loved how he felt consistent throughout the story with the weirdness, angst, and shock-value that he added with his increasingly terrible antics. I looked forward to his character-centric scenes the most.

Some portions of the book felt unnecessary, like the sex scenes, which I thought didn’t really serve much of a purpose and felt like I was reading pornography. Additionally, at the end of some chapters, when Sammie has a brief confrontation with the various strangers she meets in day-to-day life, we get a small retelling from their point of view, which can be kind of strange and confusing. I tried keeping track of these people, thinking that I might be able to hear about them later on in the novel, but it ultimately proved fruitless when they didn’t come up again. Why don’t we get to see an intimate retelling of the more significant events in the book from someone important like Monika or Samson instead of these one-off characters?

I felt that there was a big issue with possessiveness and body autonomy in the novel, where Sammie is obsessed with keeping Samson and controlling him. I’d like to believe that this might be the case where Sammie feels like she has no control of anything going on in her life, so she latches onto her son and the bite mark she left on his skin to show that he is forever hers, but I don’t really think that’s the case. Sammie makes a lot of her own choices in this book, and most of them were due to impulsiveness, the passions of strong emotions, the influence of alcohol, or other negative factors of her own will which, of course, led to all of these terrible consequences.

I thought that this was going to be a strong start to get me back into reading/listening to audiobooks this year after hearing about all the hype, but ultimately, I didn’t feel very connected with this book. I think the most memorable portions, for me at least, would be the scenes with Samson, and less about Sammie, or even Monika, who was mostly absent from the story.

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Ehhhh idk about this one

I was so excited for this book. I loved Mostly Dead Things with all my heart and having been following Arnett closely since first reading it. It is truly one of my favorite books of all time. However, With Teeth left something to be desired. I found the characters half baked and repulsive. I felt like it was missing 100 pages. Or would’ve been better off as a short story. The last five pages were super interesting but left a bad taste in my mouth about the characters. Overall, it still has Arnett’s lesbian Florida gothic vibe but in my opinion does not hold a candle to Mostly Dead Things. With Teeth is grotesque and upsetting without really relenting from that. Found the characters to have little to no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Definitely not my favorite read this year which is a bummer bc it was my most anticipated book.

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Well crafted and engaging

This is an engaging book with great narration. The ending was a twist for me though others might catch on sooner than I did!