Brooklyn Sisters Take the Stage in This Funny and Relatable New Novel

Plus, a dog named Amy Klobuchar

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worry alexandra tanner
cover: scribner book company; background: getty images

Your late 20s can be a strange time; some of your peers are getting married and starting families, while others are compulsively checking their horoscopes and toying with the idea of fostering dogs. Those who relate to the latter experience will devour Worry, a debut novel by Brooklyn-based writer Alexandra Tanner.

Twenty-eight-year-old Jules Gold is living in said borough, working an unfulfilling writing job and on the heels of a breakup with a serious boyfriend (who is still her weed dealer, obviously). When her slightly younger sister, Poppy, moves in, Jules doubts it’ll just be for “a few weeks.” Still, she feels for her; Jules is the only person who knows about Poppy’s recent suicide attempt, and the hives that have plagued Poppy on and off seem to be back. (That’s not to say theirs is a sunshine-and-roses sisterly relationship. The two scream and fight and hurt each other’s feelings with abandon.)

Unsurprisingly, “a few weeks” is an understatement, and the sisters attempt to settle into a routine. Both get new jobs—Jules at an astrology startup where “Instead of offering a shoulder to cry on, we need to be that bitch of a friend who doesn’t take any shit,”—roll their eyes at their MLM-obsessed mother, and fight and make up in a way only sisters can.

Throughout, Worry feels extremely current (it’s set in 2019), with frequent references to memes, performative liberal politics and Jules’s fascination with trad wife mommy bloggers, like one who posts about having a “mom crush” on her “mini boyfriend,” by which she means her one-month-old son. 

Tanner is adept at tempering the quirky and satirical—Jules and Poppy adopt a three-legged dog named Amy Klobuchar—with more meaningful meditations on the human condition. An overwhelmed and furious Jules seethes at Poppy, “’I hate you,’ I say, ‘and I hate this dog.’ And then I’m crying because I don’t hate Poppy, and I don’t hate the dog, but I do fear my own emptiness.”

Not a ton happens by way of plot (save for an ending few will see coming), but thanks to Tanner’s conversational and darkly funny prose, it works. Plus, many readers will find that the monotony of Jules and Poppy’s lives mimics those weird late-20s feelings of floundering and not knowing and asking yourself, “what is the rest of my life going to look like?”
Perfect for fans of Elif Batuman and Ottessa Moshfegh, Worry encapsulates a uniquely millennial malaise and solidifies Alexandra Tanner as a writer to watch.

sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...