The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke
Erewhon Books, 2020, 400 pages
Trigger Warnings: Kidnapping, talk of loss of a loved one, underage drinking
About the Author: “HE/THEY/SHE, TO BE USED IN EQUAL PORTION.
Hannah Abigail Clarke was born in the Leo season of 1997 and has since lived in various places around the American Midwest. They have been published in Portland Review, PRISM international, and Chaleur Magazine, and will be a 2019 Lambda Literary Retreat Fellow. His debut novel, The Scapegracers, is slated for release in 2020 via Erewhon Books with two impending sequels following suit. She’s currently pursuing a Masters in the Program of Humanities at the University of Chicago, studying queerness and monstrosity.” (Bio taken from author’s website.)
Eloise “Sideways” Pike is her small town’s resident outcast lesbian who dabbles in witchcraft; she’s worked hard to cultivate her reputation of “don’t bother—this one bites.” When Jing, Daisy and Yates—the three most popular girls at their school—invite Sideways to their Halloween party, she is adopted into their tight-knit clique and finds herself with genuine friends for maybe the first time ever. Over the course of a week, the four girls uncover perilous tensions and strengthen their bond, all the while cursing boys who don’t treat women right.
The Scapegracers is a novel that aims and succeeds in subverting high school stereotypes, especially in “mean girls” versus “outcasts.” It explores the dynamic of intense female friendships, featuring a group of friends who would do anything for each other, regardless of their differences in experiences and identities. Sideways is unapologetically herself—she’s prickly, she’s feral, she’s self-proclaimed nasty—and her newfound group of friends love her for it, just as she loves them for who they are. The fact that there’s a healthy dose of queer characters and representation presented in the characters is the cherry on top of this witchy, atmospheric novel. I absolutely look forward to seeing what Clarke does in the next two books of this series.
PRR Writer, Caroline Ross