Reminiscent of Elif Batuman and Sally Rooney, Fiona Warnick’s precise and tender prose captures the formative moments of a young woman’s life, from the slow burn of a new crush to the swish of a skunk’s tail.
Dear Skunks, I wrote. Then I got stuck. What was there to say about the skunks? Of course there was the smell—the spraying. Everyone’s mind jumped to the spraying. I often forgot about the spraying entirely, which was nice because it made me feel that I wasn’t like other people.
From the outside, Isabel doesn’t seem to have much going on. It’s the summer after college graduation and she’s moved back to her hometown, where she spends her days house-sitting, babysitting, working the front desk at a yoga studio, and hanging out with her childhood friend Ellie. But on the inside, Isabel’s mind is always running, always analyzing, and right now, she’s trying hard to not let her thoughts give weight to boys. So when Isabel spots three baby skunks in the yard, their presence is not only a strangely thrilling break from the expected, it feels like a fortuitous sign from the universe. Skunks. That’s what she should be thinking about.
As the summer unfolds, Isabel becomes increasingly preoccupied with the skunks, while also navigating her various jobs and an ambiguous relationship with Eli, the son of the couple she’s house-sitting for. In her own life and in the imagined inner lives of the skunks, Isabel ponders the nature of existence, love vs. infatuation, and the many small moments that make us animal, make us human. The Skunks is an unforgettable coming-of-age story about the complexities of crushes, desire, friendship, and modern life.
One summer can change everything in The Skunks. A relatable and heartwarming capture of that pivotal coming of age moment in early adulthood when the world is demanding you make declarations about who you are, but you aren’t quite sure yet. Warnick gets at the pangs of awkward encounters, the trials of returning to your hometown, and most of all, finding love within yourself. An inventive new novel that ensures you’ll never think of skunks the same way. A joy to read.
—Chelsea Bieker, author of Godshot and Heartbroke
Brimming with charm and philosophical humor, The Skunks sweeps readers into a young woman’s first foray into adulthood. This is a novel that asks big questions of friendship, romantic firsts, and finding one’s way in the world. Prepare to be dazzled—Fiona Warnick is a wunderkind.
—Allegra Hyde, author of The Last Catastrophe