A Sharp, Provocative Social Novel


Come and Get It is a novel with a fascinating ensemble cast of characters. It’s told against the backdrop of the University of Arkansas in 2017. First, we meet 37-year-old Agatha Paul, a visiting professor and writer who is working on her next project, a nonfiction book about weddings and wedding traditions. But when she starts interviewing college students about weddings and their thoughts on marriage, Agatha becomes more interested in the students, the ways they live their lives, the ways they spend their money, and their thoughts about the world.

Many of the students at the university also become major players in the novel’s story. There’s Tyler, a wealthy college student who uses her “fun money” to get expensive balayage for her hair (but who also is saving up money to buy a dog). There’s Kennedy, Tyler’s roommate who transferred to the University of Arkansas in her junior year to escape a recent traumatizing experience. Kennedy, unlike Tyler, struggles to make friends at her new school and instead finds camaraderie in things; her dorm room is overstuffed with all of her Target purchases.

Then there’s Millie, a senior resident assistant who helps with Agatha’s research through access to the students in her residence hall. The more Millie spends time with Agatha, the more she becomes wrapped up in Agatha’s process and who Agatha is as a person. In fact, Millie starts fantasizing about Agatha when she’s not there and gets obsessed with the older woman.

All of the women in this story come from different backgrounds and have different expectations of each other, and that’s when things start getting a little uncomfortable. The more you read about each character’s hopes, dreams, and fears, the more you understand that these stories are not aligning in a way that’s going to work out for everyone. From the beginning, Come and Get It is setting up all of these characters for imminent disaster. You will not be able to predict where the story will go, but the journey to get there was completely riveting.

Just like with Kiley Reid’s first novel Such A Fun Age, I could not put this book down. I cringed on behalf of these characters the whole time, but I could not look away. The more mistakes everyone makes, and the more mortifying the situations became, the more invested I became in the build-up to the ultimate disaster at the end of the book. Are you dying to know what happens? I was too. Which is so odd, because it’s not like this is a plot-driven story. It’s an exploration of characters and situations, and it’s hard to say what the plot of the book really is. And yet, I really needed to know what was going to happen next at every turn.

There is so much to love about this story, and so far author Kiley Reid is 2 for 2 as far as I’m concerned. So read this book, and then go back and read Such a Fun Age. You won’t regret it.

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