The Need, by Helen Phillips, is a crazy, gripping, page-turner of a book that will leave you wondering “what did I just read?” I can’t remember who recommended it to me, but I’m glad they did.
From the publisher:
When Molly, home alone with her two young children, hears footsteps in the living room, she tries to convince herself it’s the sleep deprivation. She’s been hearing things these days. Startling at loud noises. Imagining the worst-case scenario. It’s what mothers do, she knows.
But then the footsteps come again, and she catches a glimpse of movement.
Suddenly Molly finds herself face-to-face with an intruder who knows far too much about her and her family. As she attempts to protect those she loves most, Molly must also acknowledge her own frailty. Molly slips down an existential rabbit hole where she must confront the dualities of motherhood: the ecstasy and the dread; the languor and the ferocity; the banality and the transcendence as the book hurtles toward a mind-bending conclusion.
As I’m sitting here, reading this synopsis of The Need, I’m realizing that it hardly does justice to the story. It covers maybe the first couple dozen pages, but doesn’t come close to suggesting the kind of mind-bending journey in store for readers.
Phillips does an amazing job showing the physical and mental exhaustion of motherhood. Molly is working full-time in addition to juggling responsibility for running the household.
I’d really like to share more about some of the interesting, surprising and confusing things that happen, but I’m afraid of giving away too much. There are so many twists that are unexpected and open to interpretation.
The Need was longlisted for the National Book Award in Fiction. It will keep you turning pages until you’re done and then probably searching the internet to see what other people thought about it. Read it.