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Hurricane Girl by Marcy Dermansky
Hardcover $26.00
Jun 14, 2022 | ISBN 9780593320884

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Praise

“The novel surprises us by blending visceral horror with laugh-out-loud humor. This unnerving stylistic collision is sustained throughout, as the concussed and bleeding protagonist manages to drive herself to her mother’s house in New Jersey, trying to feel grateful despite the hole in her head. ‘She still had her health,’ she thinks. ‘That was what people liked to say…’ Dermansky plays masterfully with perspective… The results are hilarious. Dermansky’s offbeat humor and spare prose make Allison’s mind a thrilling and wholly unusual place to be…. A wickedly entertaining read from first to last.”
—Aamina Ahmad, New York Times Book Review

“Dermansky uses economical prose to tell of 30-something Allison Brody, whose East Coast escape from an L.A. producer boyfriend goes pear-shaped when a storm destroys her new North Carolina home. Recovering from an operation to repair a hole in her head, Allison might also be in love with her surgeon. Allison is not OK, but Allison’s story is wickedly funny and wonderfully compact — paradoxically both satisfying and leaving you wanting more.” 
—Bethanne Patrick, Los Angeles Times

“Dermansky is a master of that slippery thing we might call voice….Dermansky creates an experience in fiction that is powerfully and unnervingly realistic…[and] achieves what it really feels like to be a person rather than its literary simulation…Universally delightful…Allison’s story is a powerful comedic indictment and investigation of the darkness of American millennial life, where literally nothing we were told to want is stable, not even a house, let alone a home.”
—Emma Copley Eisenberg, The Boston Globe

“After Allison Brody leaves her film producer boyfriend and buys a beach house, her life finally feels settled. Until a Category 3 hurricane destroys it, that is. When she meets a cameraman in a bar, going home with him doesn’t seem like the worst idea in the world. That is, until he breaks a glass vase over her head. After she has brain surgery to fix the hole he leaves, she falls in love with her brain surgeon who’s also an old friend and…let’s just say there’s a lot going on here, and even more to love. This is a comedic horror mishmash that’s as quirky as it is a ton of fun, plus it centers around swimming pools. Does it get much more beach-ready than that?” 
Good Housekeeping

“With nimble prose, touches of dark humor, and flirtations with the surreal, Marcy Dermansky reaches deep into the wells of millennial discontent to reveal how confronting the past might provide an indecisive 30-something with her clearest path forward.” 
—Omari Weekes, Vulture 

“Dermansky weaves a tale that is absurdly funny and cheering.” 
Newsday

“Readers hungry for a novel that’s equal parts sweet and sour will find plenty of sugar and vinegar in Hurricane Girl by Marcy Dermansky….Readers will enjoy Dermansky’s humorous one-liners and deceptively light touch. And they will sympathize with Allison, a woman tired of the way men treat her and who fights her inclination to go through life like a swimmer in the ocean: floating aimlessly, drifting wherever the waves take her.”
—Michael Magras, Shelf Awareness

“A propulsive story about a woman who runs from catastrophe and goes home in search of love, a swimming pool and comfort.” 
New Jersey Monthly

“With a splash of dark humor, a bout of violence, and a fair share of interesting sexcapades, Marcy Dermansky’s Hurricane Girl is the perfect recipe for a chaotic summertime read.” 
—Emily Weaver, Scary Mommy

“The titular hurricane girl is on the run… and she’s really not sure what to do next, okay? But she’ll figure it out, gloriously and completely, in this ode to escape and reinvention.” 
—Molly Odintz, CrimeReads Senior Editor

“Just a little comedy about the loss of all worldly possessions, near-deadly assault, brain surgery, and violent revenge… Small comic gems sparkle in their deadpan settings on every page… The only bad thing about this book is that you will likely finish it in one sitting.”
Kirkus Reviews, Starred

“Marcy Dermansky is one of the most wildly original writers that I’ve ever read, and Hurricane Girl showcases what makes her so amazing. In tracking the unpredictable movements of a strange and hypnotic journey in the aftermath of a natural disaster, Dermansky nails the sensation of being alive, of navigating a world so strange that it’s almost a dream, of trying, again and again, to anchor yourself to a moment, to assure yourself that you exist, to withstand anything and somehow keep living.”
—Kevin Wilson, author of Nothing to See Here

“With her new work, Dermansky (The Red Car) creates a central character whose life is a hurricane of impulsivity…Dermansky surrounds Allison with disappointing men, making her trust issues understandable, and she effectively captures Allison’s brain fog and inability to make reasonable decisions, particularly following a traumatic brain injury… Satisfying.”
Library Journal

“Eminently relatable in a world filled with pitfalls for women who try to figure
out what they want for themselves.”
—Booklist

Author Q&A

Q: Can you identify a particular moment that sparked the inspiration for Hurricane Girl? (A crazy road trip of your own, perhaps?)

A: I often think about what happens after a dream come true. Figure skaters and gymnasts in particular. What happens after you win a gold medal when you are sixteen? Is anything after that ever as good? When Hurricane Girl opens, Allison is at that dream come true place in her life. It’s not an Olympic medal but a beach house. She gets one. She is happy. And just like that, with one hurricane, it is taken away from her.

My older sister Julie Dermansky is a photojournalist, documenting the ravages of climate change. In the last few years, I have gazed at so many of her photos of loss, the destruction of so many homes from so many hurricanes. Sad families standing in front of the ruin. These images linger in the back of my mind. Every destroyed house has a story.

I started Hurricane Girl with just that one idea: what happens when you lose your beach house. Everything that follows in the novel was a genuine surprise. It gets a lot worse for Allison from there.


Q: Why is the novel called Hurricane Girl?

A: This title genuinely pleases me, even though my twelve-year-old daughter hates it. Allison Brody is a superhero. An unhinged, revenge-driven superhero seeking love and justice and a place to swim. I think we all want justice right now — for so many things — and somehow, there is no having it. Not through legal means. Hurricane Girl is also a modern-day fairy tale and also horror story. I hope readers will find this satisfying and embrace Allison.


Q: Tell us about Allison, the protagonist of your new novel. How would you describe her to someone meeting her for the first time?

A: I would describe Allison as a dreamer whose innate trust in the universe is shaken after she is the victim of a violent assault. Which comes right after the loss of her beach house. Allison is also a contradiction: a feminist who wants to be taken care of.

I believe that Allison would be a terrific friend, a wonderful mother. She is always hungry, always looking for the things in life that make her happy. Laps in a swimming pool. The next good meal. Good sex. Binge watching tv. She would be a great person to spend time with. Open, friendly, fun. Kind. Unless she does not like you, and then, well, like the hapless drunken bridesmaid in Miami, Allison might quickly reduce you to tears.

Are people still called live wires? I would put Allison in this category.


Q: Hurricane Girl gives readers an intimate inside glimpse into Allison’s head—an experience that’s gripping, funny, thought-provoking, and occasionally unhinged in the best possible way. What was your experience like writing this book? How did it feel for you as the writer to live inside Allison’s head?

A: Writing is always an act of catharsis. It’s also an attention grab: Listen to me. I am relatively quiet in real life. I basically always try to be pleasant around other people. On social media, I never post anything that I feel will incite anger in others because I don’t want to have to respond to anger or crazy people. But inside my head – enter at your own risk. Allison Brody’s brain is literally exposed in this novel and to some extent, I am exposing the inside of my brain, too. And for the record, I once watched the Ashley Judd episode of Star Trek in a hotel room after a wedding and I am so glad that Allison got to do that, too. I loved when my brain decided to throw that in. Writing can just be so great.

I loved writing Hurricane Girl because I allowed myself to let loose. Or, I let Allison let loose. Allison genuinely becomes unhinged – she has a real-life hole in her head after all. I generously gave Allison some of my best thoughts. My desperation for a place to swim is also hers.

And noise. Sometimes, I feel like I want to hurt people who sit in their parked cars and let them idle, while playing loud music. The beeping of a car or truck while in reverse is a certifiable offense. Leaf blowers. Jackhammers. The inside of a hospital is unbearable.

I have wondered what my life would have been if I had not broken up with the college boyfriend who wanted to marry me. He was very much my Danny Yang. So nice. So secure. Not an artistic bone in his body. He makes so much money now. Wouldn’t that be nice? As a modern-day feminist, I am not supposed to admit that either.


Q: Hurricane Girl threads the needle between comedy and something bordering on horror. How would you describe the tone of this story? And can you tell us a little bit about how you found this story’s tone and voice?

A: I feel like right now, we are all living in a horror film. And humor is a big way to survive it — when not stuck feeling angry and alternately helpless. Hurricane Girl is not a pandemic novel, but I wrote the final scenes in the very beginning of lockdown. Maybe, I would have written a different, less violent ending if I was not shut in at home while my daughter was lying on the floor of her room, doing virtual school. Where I am in my life very much affects what I write. I have never written horror before. While it was not intentional, I don’t think it’s a coincidence either.

That said, all of my books are humorous. I don’t even try to be funny. It just comes out. Even when things get dark.


Q: As our team has been discussing this book, we’ve begun to think of it as “feminist noir.” Could you explain what that phrase means to you in the context of this story?

A: Allison Brody takes serious revenge in Hurricane Girl. She does not consider due process for a second. It is so easy as a female writer to create a passive narrator. Depressed. Inactive. Imagine, if the pool that Allison swims in on the top of Danny Yang’s roof were to stay open indefinitely. If summer never ended. Would she seek revenge? Would this story even turn noir?

But summer has to end. I hate that.

I was raised to be a feminist before I knew what that meant. I ran for class president in the fourth grade and to do this day, I am sure that I lost because I was a girl. But at the same time, women are raised to be good. Polite. Even feminists. To me, feminist noir exemplifies a strong woman who is not constrained by these societal expectations. I would say that Allison’s bad behavior at a wedding is not all that different from attacking the camera man. It’s a matter of scale. By the end of the novel, Allison is done being good.


Q: Looking at your body of work, what does Hurricane Girl have in common with your previous novels? How is it different?

A: My previous novel Very Nice was practically sprawling. It had five points of view. It was longer than my previous books by almost a hundred pages. Two of the protagonists were men. In a Q&A with Emily St John Mandel at the launch for The Red Car, she pointed out that I rarely spent much time writing male characters. I honestly had no idea. And so, I wrote about men in my next book. I enjoyed going into heads of both Zahid, the narcissistic best-selling author, and the cheating father who loses his wife to Zahid.

I think Marcy Dermansky fans will find that Hurricane Girl is a return, in sorts, to my previous work. A single first person POV. An unhinged narrator. I expect some readers will consider Allison Brody unlikeable, because of her selfish behavior. They are, however, wrong. Just thinking about readers not liking Allison hurts my feelings, but that’s also okay. It happens with a lot of my female characters. Some readers did not like Marie, who steals the husband and child of her best friend in Bad Marie. So I guess that makes sense. But I loved Marie.

Back to length. Hurricane Girl is definitely a short novel. While revising, I added fifty pages just to make it novel length. Like Bad Marie and The Red Car, Hurricane Girl is driven by a propulsive plot. It is a book that can read in one sitting. It is dark and literary and easy to read all at the same time.

One other thing I have noticed about my work from one novel to the next is the repetition of certain things. I have two books where the main character goes to see sea lions. Two novels that prominently feature swimming pools. Three novels with turkey sandwiches. Three novels with poodles. Two with red cars. The unhinged female protagonist: every book. Some, more than one per book. My first novel Twins, for instance, has two unhinged narrators: Chloe and Sue. I would say Very Nice has three. I just realized that there is a Chloe in both Twins and Very Nice. Two Chloes! Oh, but one of the Chloes is spelled with a K so I am not sure how that should be counted. Three Daniels. I would love to hire a professional indexer one day.

I think there is unidentifiable quality to all of my books, the dark humor and repetition in the prose. I believe that readers would know Hurricane Girl was written by me, even if my name wasn’t on the cover.


Q: What do you most hope readers take away from Hurricane Girl?

A: The first word that came into my mind is pleasure. I know this sounds strange, given the violent ending of this novel. But there is also happiness mixed in with those shards of glass when Allison takes revenge. Happiness when Allison talks to her belly, imagining her future, a life with baby Phoebe and her loving boyfriend. When she carries the big cat out of the camera man’s house. I hope readers to find it funny when Allison and Danny kiss for the time over the head of her brother’s baby, a baby she calls by the wrong name. That is also this book. Funny and twisted and romantic.

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