When it comes to picking out a new book, sometimes I can be indecisive. I’m about to commit to this for the next 300 or so pages. Do I want something summery? Something dark and twisted? Or maybe more domestic fiction? It can be a real head-scratcher. That is, until I picked up a copy of Someone Else’s Secret by Julia Spiro, out July 1, 2020, which has a little bit of everything.
After graduating Bowdoin with a degree in art history, no job prospects, and no trust fund or rich parents to fall back on, Lindsey takes a job as a nanny for Carol and Jonathan, a well-to-do and well-connected couple on Martha’s Vineyard. In her care are 5-year-old Robert aka Berty, and 15-year-old Georgina aka Georgie. Lindsey, who comes from a working-class family, doesn’t exactly fit in with the types of people who summer on Martha’s Vineyard (and use “summer” as a verb), like her fellow Bowdoin alum Joanna and her friends. Over the course of the summer, Lindsey and Georgie develop a sort of friendship (or at least, an understanding), until an act of violence shatters their bond. Someone Else’s Secret is Julia Spiro’s first novel, and Betches readers can get an exclusive excerpt right here, before it comes out on July 1.
When her alarm went off at seven thirty, Lindsey was already awake. She had woken up a few minutes earlier and stayed still in bed, staring at the warm sunlight streaming in through the shutter slats, painting the room in bright stripes.
She’d decided not to tell her mom, or Rose, or anyone, about her strange encounter with Jonathan the night before. He was probably just an awkward guy, she told herself. Not everything has to mean something, she resolved. And what was he going to do, really? Hit on her in his own house with his wife and kids there? This was real life, she told herself, not a bad movie.
She thought about Dylan as she rose from bed: the ease of his walk, the way he had gently picked up her bike, the way he had looked at her directly in her eyes when he said goodbye, the way his hand felt on hers, the way her feet seemed to float off the ground when they were together. But in the light of day, she was angry with herself for thinking about him. It was obvious that Dylan wasn’t part of Joanna’s crowd. He was a local, a townie, and even though Lindsey had been on the island for only one night, she knew already that someone like him wasn’t part of her future plans. Where could it possibly go?
She brought her phone with her into the bathroom, skimming through emails as she brushed her teeth. Her phone buzzed with a text from a number she didn’t recognize. Dylan, she thought. She opened the text. Hey, it’s Brian. Nice meeting you last night. Hope to see you around.
Lindsey let the brush hang out the side of her mouth, foam frothing at the corner of her lips. Brian? She had to reread the text again. She had barely spoken to him last night. She hadn’t given him her number. There was no way he would have gotten it from Joanna, she thought.She decided not to respond. And then it occurred to her: Did Brian suspect that she had done something to his car? Was this his way of telling her that he knew?
She remembered then that Brian was a Fitzgerald, that he was part of the family who Jonathan had told her owned the art gallery. She’d been on island one night, and she’d already jeopardized her entire future. She rubbed her eyes with her palms. She knew that she had to walk a tightrope with Brian. She didn’t want to lead him on, but she couldn’t be rude either. She would respond to him later.
For now, she had to focus on her job. It was time to get breakfast ready for Berty. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny day, and she could feel the heated sunshine through her window, even in the early hours. Berty had tennis after breakfast, and then Lindsey was taking him over to the beach club. She was looking forward to that. She could see the club from the Deckers’ living room, just across the outer harbor. The club’s shoreline was dotted with red, white, and blue wooden cabanas that made the beach look like a traveling circus. From what Carol and Georgie had told her about the club, it seemed like Berty would have plenty of things to do there to keep him busy. She might even get to relax a little bit.
Downstairs, she heard voices as she rounded the bend into the kitchen. Carol and Jonathan sat at the island, each sipping a mug of coffee. They both looked up as she walked in, and for a moment, Lindsey thought they seemed surprised to see her, like she had accidentally interrupted some intimate moment. She had started to feel that way a lot in the Deckers’ house, like she was always in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“Lindsey,” Jonathan said after a second. “Good morning.” He smiled at her, a wholesome, friendly smile that belonged to a father, a doting husband, someone reliable and loyal. He seemed to be an entirely different person than the one she had seen last night. Had he mentioned to Carol that he’d seen her come in? she wondered. For a moment, she considered whether she had been drunker than she’d thought. Maybe she had exaggerated the interaction in her mind as being something more menacing than it actually had been.
“Good morning.” She fidgeted, wishing that she’d worn real clothes over her suit instead of a somewhat translucent cover-up.
“Sleep okay?” he asked. Carol still hadn’t said anything.
“Yes, great.” She felt her voice raise up an octave, sounding too enthusiastic, too eager. “Everything is great.” She felt her stomach rumble.
“Good, good,” Jonathan said, rising. “I’ve got to do a little bit of work, and then I’ve got tennis at ten.”
“What time did we all decide to meet for lunch? Two?” Carol asked him, seeming to ignore Lindsey.
“Yes, two.” Jonathan gave her a kiss on the forehead, quick but gentle; then he turned and left the kitchen.
Lindsey was left alone with Carol, and despite her terrible encounter with Jonathan the night before, she somehow still felt more awkward with Carol. She smiled and exhaled. “Beautiful day, huh?”
Carol nodded. “It is a beautiful day, yes.” She shut her laptop. “Berty is outside, as you can see,” she said. Lindsey looked out onto the lawn. Berty was playing with what looked like a doll. “Georgie is already at work. But she’ll meet us all at the club later for lunch.”
“Great. Sounds good.”
Carol went over some of the logistics with Lindsey again—directions to the tennis club, their account number at the beach club, what kind of sunscreen to use on Berty’s sensitive skin—though Lindsey could tell it bothered Carol to do so. Her words were curt and quick, and she seemed distracted.
“I’ve already registered your name with the beach club. All you have to do is sign in when you get there. You can just put whatever you want on our tab. But Berty only gets one ice cream or treat a day.” Carol stood and carried her coffee mug to the sink. “See you around two, then,” she said and went upstairs. Lindsey felt as though Carol had given her a once-over with her eyes before leaving the room, and she wasn’t sure if her expression implied that she approved of her outfit or not.
She called Berty inside for breakfast and made him a bowl of yogurt with granola and honey. He stirred it repeatedly but didn’t seem interested in eating. After a few bites, he pushed the bowl away.
“I hate tennis,” he whined.
“Well, think about it this way,” Lindsey said, leaning on the counter so that she was level with him. “If you go to tennis this morning, then we can have the entire rest of the day to play at the beach. Doesn’t that sound awesome?”
“I guess so,” he whispered. “Okay.”
The walk to the tennis club was only a few minutes. It was part of the yacht club, which was located on the harbor, Carol had told Lindsey, but there was a separate area just for tennis. Berty was in a tennis clinic with other kids his age. When they got to the club, he ran to his group immediately. They were gathered on one of the courts in back. There was a middle-aged instructor on one side of the net with a basket of balls. The kids lined up on the other side; they knew what to do.
Next to the court was a shaded area with some chairs and a watercooler. Five other nannies were already sitting there. One had a magazine open. They glanced up at Lindsey when she arrived, assessing her, the new girl. Some smiled; others didn’t. Lindsey sat. She knew that none of them was the mother of any of these kids; it wasn’t just that they were slightly too young to be mothers; it was that they looked different from the actual mothers. They weren’t as polished; they all seemed a little bit exhausted. It was clear that they weren’t there to socialize. They were working. They were outsiders. And she was one of them, a fact that she hated.
Looking around at the other women, she noticed that some of them wore outfits that seemed to be emulations of what Carol and other women in Edgartown wore—the flat, Navajo-style leather sandals, seersucker striped skirts, simple shift dresses—yet something about these girls seemed inauthentic to Lindsey, like they were trying too hard. She gazed down at her own clothing, at the silver Tiffany’s charm bracelet that her parents had given her for her sixteenth birthday, and she knew that it was actually her own insecurity, her own feelings of inauthenticity, that bothered her, not theirs. She remembered how out of place she had felt her first week at Bowdoin.
She looked at the text from Brian again, deciding to respond. She started typing something and then deleted it. You too, she finally wrote, hitting “Send” and putting her phone away, deciding that Brian was probably just being friendly.
The club was just up the road on the Chappy side. Members Only read a sign on a white picket fence in front of the entrance. Berty swung the gate door open and barreled in. Lindsey stopped at the reception desk briefly. A young girl in a red swimsuit was manning the desk.
“Hi,” Lindsey said, keeping an eye on Berty, who had gone ahead but was now waiting and looking back at her, annoyed. “I’m with the Decker family; I think Mrs. Decker called in. I’m Lindsey?”
“You’re all set,” the girl said knowingly.
Lindsey followed Berty forward, where the club opened up to a sweeping private beach. It was paradise. There was a long dock, at the end of which was a waterslide and a diving board. “Wow,” Lindsey said to no one. The air smelled of burgers and saltwater, and there was an army of tan teenage lifeguards in red bathing suits parading around the club.
“Come on,” Berty said, tugging her. “I need to get changed.”
In the women’s bathroom, she got Berty changed into his swim trunks. “Let’s go,” he demanded impatiently once they were on. She made him wait another minute while she slathered him in sunblock.
Lindsey found a free spot on the beach, and she put her things down and then took off her cover-up. She was glad that she had worn her one-piece. Everyone at the club—parents, nannies, and kids—were all walking around in their bathing suits, but it was somehow still entirely conservative. Thank God, Lindsey thought to herself, imagining the reactions she would have gotten if she’d worn a string bikini.
Berty liked to go off the waterslide at the end of the dock again and again. A couple of his friends from tennis were there, too, and they all took turns going off the slide, climbing up the ladder, and then waiting for their next turn. A bored lifeguard blew his whistle when one of the kids started to get on the slide before the previous kid had swum out of the way.
After a while, Berty was thirsty, so Lindsey took him to the snack bar. He wanted a lemonade. She got herself an iced tea. Decker was all she had to say. She wondered what the final bill was at the end of every summer. There were no prices on the menu. None of that seemed to matter to anyone there.
She and Berty went to their spot on the beach and sipped their drinks. When he was finished, he went and sat on the shoreline and started building a sandcastle. The club really was the perfect setup, Lindsey thought to herself. She could relax and suntan while Berty was just a few feet away, playing. Lindsey sank into her elbows and let the sun blanket her skin. She could get used to this, if this was what her summer was going to look like.
“Boo!” she heard, and she felt someone’s cold fingers on her shoulders. She turned. It was Joanna. She was wearing a Shoshanna bikini with a pink gingham pattern and structured cups. Lindsey had seen it just yesterday in the store window of Nell. Joanna practically threw herself down onto the beach, stretching out on one of the towels that Lindsey had laid out, and released a dramatic sigh. Lindsey noticed that she was also wearing the exact Ray-Ban aviator glasses that she had wanted for herself. Now she couldn’t get them.
“God, what a night, huh?” Joanna said.
“Yeah,” Lindsey responded. It had been a night, though she wasn’t sure which part had unnerved her the most: keying Brian’s car, meeting Dylan, or the weird conversation with Jonathan. It had all become a surreal blur. “I’m kind of in shock about what”—she paused—“about what we did last night. To Brian’s car.” She wondered if Joanna knew that Brian had texted her. She opened her mouth to tell her but stayed silent. How would she explain it?
Joanna flipped over onto her belly, propping herself on her forearms.
“Don’t worry,” she said, swatting at Lindsey’s thigh. “It’s fine. In fact,” she whispered, pushing her glasses down on her nose and peering out over them, looking around, “nobody will ever know that it was us. Brian totally thinks it was someone else.” She smiled and raised her eyebrows.
Lindsey was relieved. She didn’t like how Joanna had said us. She knew that she had participated in it, but Joanna was the one who’d really done it, in her mind. She just went along with it. Didn’t that make her more innocent? she thought to herself.
“Well, that’s good, I guess,” she mumbled. “Who does he think did it?”
“Some townie guy,” Joanna said, shifting her hips to get more comfortable on the towel. “There’s this guy who has a rivalry with Brian. Something that happened in the fishing derby a few years ago. I don’t know; it’s so stupid. But I guess Whitney saw the guy driving by the party last night on his way back from the beach, so obviously now everyone thinks that guy did it. Makes total sense.” Lindsey’s stomach tightened. Dylan, she thought to herself. As if Joanna knew that Lindsey felt guilty, she continued. “I mean, the townie guy would have done it anyway. I mean, probably.” She paused. “Like, they’re enemies. But whatever, who cares? The point is, Brian got what he deserved, and no one knows that it was us.”
“Joanna,” Lindsey said with caution. “That guy . . .” She paused. She wasn’t sure how much she wanted to tell Joanna. She could sense already that she’d be judged if she revealed that Dylan had asked for her number and she was excited about it. “He gave me a ride home last night. My bike broke, and he saw me and drove me home. He seems really . . . nice.”
Joanna rolled her eyes. “Lindsey!” She pushed her sunglasses down. “You like this guy. It’s so obvious!”
“I don’t even know him . . .” But Lindsey could feel herself smiling. “He does seem like a good guy, though.” She looked around. “You don’t think Brian’s going to, like, retaliate, do you? I mean, Dylan had nothing to do with it.”
Joanna didn’t respond for a few seconds. “Listen,” she said, “Brian and this guy—Dylan, right?” Lindsey nodded. “They already had a beef together. It’s not like we created this. They already had it out for one another. This is just one more thing added to the list. It doesn’t even matter.” Lindsey didn’t agree with that logic. It wasn’t right. Dylan was innocent. They were the guilty ones. How could Joanna just be okay with the fact that they were blaming someone else? “What’s done is done,” Joanna added.
Lindsey’s only hope was that the whole thing might just go away. Maybe Brian wouldn’t even care that much; maybe he’d just forget about it. Though she knew that wasn’t going to happen. Her stomach churned.
“So has Mr. Decker flirted with you yet or what?” Joanna asked with a laugh, changing the subject. “I told you, didn’t I? He’s a little creepy, right?”
“I mean . . .” Lindsey chose her words carefully. She wanted to confide in Joanna, but she also didn’t want to talk badly about her boss, especially when he knew Joanna’s parents. “He does seem a little weird. I saw him last night when I got home. It was just . . . strange.”
“Ew,” Joanna huffed. “I mean, Mr. Decker is kind of hot, but he’s, like, a hard fifty.”
Lindsey shook her head and shrugged.
“Well, whatever. Next week is Brian’s family’s big party,” Joanna said. “It’s going to be so fun.”
“Cool” was all Lindsey could respond. She was too distracted.
Joanna left an hour later. “I’m going home to my pool,” she said, waving the sand off her towel. “It’s so boring here now. All my girlfriends are gone this year. They’re off in the real world, I guess.”
Lindsey smiled, wondering if she should be somewhat offended.
“But thank God you’re here,” Joanna added.
Lindsey watched her as she left the club, her wet hair clinging to her back.
A few hours later, Carol and Jonathan showed up for lunch.
“We’ll get a table,” Carol said. She and Jonathan turned back toward the snack bar. Berty ran behind them. Lindsey tried to towel off as best she could and then threw on her cover-up. Immediately, big wet spots formed around her breasts. She pressed the cover-up over the rest of her stomach, trying to get the whole thing wet so that the spots would blend in.
Jonathan and Carol had put some of their things on a table and were standing in line to order. There was nothing healthy—a cheeseburger, BLT, grilled cheese, chicken salad sandwich. Lindsey wanted to order after Carol. She was curious what she was going to get.
“Hi,” Carol said to the young girl at the counter. “Decker, 7625. Can we please have a cheeseburger, medium, a grilled cheese with tomato, and a garden salad with grilled chicken? Please put the dressing on the side. Jonathan?”
“A BLT, please. Thanks.” It was Lindsey’s turn. She had heard Carol order but didn’t know what was for her or the kids.
“I’ll have the turkey wrap, please. Thank you.” She didn’t really want that. She didn’t want anything. She wasn’t hungry all of a sudden. It felt too uncomfortable to eat lunch with them in the first place. They ordered a few iced teas and went to sit down.
“Georgie should be here soon,” Carol said at the table. “Or at least that’s what she told me.”
Berty told Jonathan that he’d been off the slide a hundred times that morning. Lindsey was grateful that Berty talked so much. She didn’t have anything to say.
A few minutes later, Georgie arrived. She was wearing her work clothes—jean cutoff shorts and a Picnic Basket shirt. She dumped her bag on the ground and sat down, looking around her as if she was trying to avoid someone or trying to find someone.
“Are you going to change?” Carol asked her before saying anything else. “Did you bring a suit?”
“Of course I brought a suit,” Georgie said, annoyed. “I’ll go change now.” Lindsey shifted in her seat. She didn’t see what was wrong with Georgie’s outfit or why she needed her swimsuit on to eat lunch. It was as if Carol was ashamed of her in those clothes. Work clothes.
Georgie emerged from the bathroom in a white eyelet print dress. Lindsey couldn’t tell what kind of bathing suit she had on underneath, but she had transformed from a normal teenager into a younger version of Carol—elegant, well groomed, and sophisticated. It didn’t seem like her.
“So how was work today?” Jonathan asked.
“Good,” Georgie responded, sipping an iced tea. “I saw Brian Fitzgerald.”
Lindsey nearly choked. Did Georgie know something about what she’d done last night? Did she know that Brian had texted her? Had Georgie given Brian her number?
“How is he doing these days? I just saw his father at the club last week. Said Brian was working on some start-up idea. He always was a smart kid.”
“Yeah” was all Georgie said. “He’s really smart.” Over the loudspeaker, their name was called, and Jonathan got up to go get their lunch. He came back with the food on two shiny red trays. Berty dove toward the grilled cheese.
“I took the liberty of ordering you a salad, Gigi,” Carol said.
“Thanks.” Georgie was pissed, that was obvious, but she didn’t say anything else. Lindsey watched Carol dissect her cheeseburger. She ate the patty with a fork, ignoring the bun.
The rest of lunch went by quickly, and Carol and Jonathan left when they were finished. They gave Georgie and Berty pecks on the head and then walked out. Lindsey sensed a common feeling of relief between her and the kids when they were gone.
“We got a pretty great spot down the beach,” she said to Georgie as they cleared the table.
“Cool. It’s still pretty hot out. I need to get a tan.”
Berty returned to his sandcastle on the shore. Georgie rolled out her towel next to Lindsey’s and then took off her white dress. She was wearing a string bikini underneath, to Lindsey’s surprise. Georgie looked around again, and this time, her eyes lingered on a group of girls down the beach. She dropped to her towel, lying on her stomach, and turned her head the other way.
“Cute suit,” Lindsey said to her.
“Thanks.” Georgie didn’t lift her head. It was clear she didn’t want to talk. Lindsey watched Berty for a few minutes, not saying anything.
Georgie released a sigh and flipped over, leaning back on her elbows. She turned her head toward the group of girls down the beach, her gaze settling on them. Maybe those girls had been Georgie’s friends, and something had happened, Lindsey thought. Georgie hadn’t mentioned any friends since Lindsey arrived.
“Everything okay?” Lindsey finally asked.
“Yeah, it’s fine,” Georgie said, turning to stare straight ahead at the water. “There’s just, well, there’s this guy.”
Lindsey was surprised; she had assumed that Georgie was having issues with friends, not with guys. “Oh,” she said, “guy stuff. What’s going on?”
Georgie turned toward Lindsey so that she was on her side, as though to welcome the conversation and to keep it contained between the two of them.
“I mean,” she whispered, “he’s too old for me. I guess. Maybe not in a few years. I don’t know. I just really like him.”
“Well, how old is he?” Lindsey asked. She was thinking about how Georgie had mentioned Brian at lunch.
“I think he’s, like, twenty-four?” she said. “Basically your age, I guess,” she added.
Before Lindsey could even respond and tell her that twenty-four was too old for her, that she should find a nice guy her own age, Georgie interjected.
“He was flirting with me,” she said defensively. “Anyway, it’s dumb,” she continued. “He used to teach me sailing when I was younger, and I think I’ve always liked him.”
So maybe it wasn’t Brian, Lindsey thought to herself, remembering that Joanna had said something about Brian being on Wall Street. Must be some local kid, she thought.
“I understand,” she said, “but I think you’re right. He’s probably a little bit too old. At least for now. But you never know where life will take you. Maybe in a few years, when you’re older, when you’re eighteen, you’ll be in similar places in life.” Lindsey didn’t really mean it; she was lying to Georgie, somewhat, but it felt like a kind lie and the right thing to do.
Georgie nodded. “You’re right,” she said. “Maybe it’s just not the right time.”
“Exactly.” Lindsey couldn’t believe how fast Georgie had come around.
“I mean,” Georgie continued, “I’ve known Brian my whole life, basically, since I was a kid. Our parents are friends. I’m sure I’ll still know him in a few years. Maybe later on it will be the right time.”
Lindsey’s ears pricked at the sound of Brian’s name. What was it about this guy that everyone was so drawn to? He was charming, sure, and cute, in a way, but he seemed ordinary to her and somewhat arrogant. She didn’t understand the magnetic pull he seemed to have on women.
“Well,” she said, trying to figure out what to tell Georgie. She knew that there was nothing anyone could tell a teenage girl to convince her that a guy wasn’t right for her. Georgie had a crush, and there was no going back. But she had to try. “Sometimes you think a guy is right for you, and he ends up being wrong for you.” She started rambling then, telling Georgie about her own high school crush that had ended in heartbreak. Georgie nodded but didn’t say anything. She took out a copy of Glamour from her bag and started reading.
In front of them on the beach, Berty knocked his sandcastle down with his feet, running through it with a slight scream. Lindsey looked at her cell phone but had no new messages. The phone itself felt like a duplicitous piece of evidence that she needed to bury deep down in her bag, like a forbidden weapon. She hadn’t meant to, but already she had basically lied to Joanna, Georgie, and, in a way, to Dylan, and all the lies were somehow connected to Brian. She hadn’t asked Brian to reach out to her, but he had. And now, not telling Joanna and Georgie that information somehow felt like she was actively lying to both of them. She hated the feeling of carrying secrets that she’d never wanted in the first place. She wished that she could extricate herself from the web she’d crawled into last night. But it was too late.
“Excerpted from SOMEONE ELSE’S SECRET by Julia Spiro. Copyright © 2020 by Julia Spiro. Published and reprinted by permission of Lake Union Publishing. All rights reserved.”
Summertime is officially upon us (it’s June 21st, I’ll forgive you if you just had to Google it), so that means you officially have no excuse not to pick up a fucking book for once. We’ve rounded up some great books that, even if you’re taking an Adderall vacation, you’ll actually be able to get through this summer. Yes, they’re that good. Whether you’re on the subway (we feel sorry for you), at the beach, or standing in front of your open freezer, we’ve got the best summer reads for every betch in your life.
For The Betch Who’s Dead Inside: ‘Standard Deviation’ By Katherine Heiny
Simply put, this book is about a married couple and the ins and outs of their lives. I know, it sounds like a snore, but hear me out. The characters are so vivid you’ll feel like you know them—and honestly, it’s about a family in the Upper East side so like, you probably do know a family a lot like them. But this book is betchy because everyone’s divorced. Everyone’s cheating on each other and everyone’s divorced. If you need reaffirmation that love does not exist and marriage is a sham of an institution (aka #TeamDeadInside), read Standard Deviation. And then delete your Bumble profile.
For The Betch Who Loves A Good Scandal: ‘The Misfortune Of Marion Palm’ By Emily Culliton
If you love scandals and mystery but like, murder scares you, then you’ll love The Misfortune of Marion Palm. It’s about a young Brooklyn mom (I’m sure you know the type) who embezzles $180K from her kid’s fancy private school and then runs away to Sheepshead Bay. Someone who commits a felony in Brooklyn and then runs away to a different part of Brooklyn and evades police… sounds like the ever-incompetent Rosewood PD had something to do with this, making this book equally perfect for the Pretty Little Liars fan.
For The Betch Who Thinks She’s Olivia Benson: ‘The Perfect Stranger’ By Megan Miranda
Another mystery, this one’s good for your friend who keeps re-reading Luckiest Girl Alive. Like, girl, you already know the twist. What’s the point? Anyway, in this suspenseful read, a millennial who doesn’t know wtf she’s doing with her life (same girl) is forced to live in exile rural PA to figure out her shit and help her friend who got in too deep with a fuckboy. But things get weirder than the contestants on this season of The Bachelorette when her BFF ghosts her….perhaps literally.
For The Betch Who Can’t Stop Keeping Up With The Kardashians: ‘Rich People Problems’ By Kevin Kwan
It’s Keeping Up with The Kardashians meets The Real Housewives, except set in Singapore. Everyone should read this because 1) the first book in the series is going to be a movie soon so you’ll look cultured AF if you’ve read it before the movie trailer comes out 2) it’s scandalous, vindictive, and hilarious (also adjectives I use to describe myself on Bumble just btw) and 3) it’ll finally convince people that Asian dudes are hot (important).
For The Betch Who Loves Murder: ‘I’ll Eat When I’m Dead’ By Barbara Bourland
When Hillary, a betch who works at a magazine, dies alone in a locked, windowless conference room (y aren’t there windows tho?), people initially think she died as the result of an eating disorder. But Hill’s best friend knows she wasn’t like that, and two months later a note in Hill’s handwriting ends up at the NYPD. The case is reopened and the best friend and colleague have to put up with party girls, Type A narcissists and half-dead socialites (sounds like my squad tbh) to solve the case. If UnReal, The Devil Wears Prada, and Sex & The City had a vindictive, hilarious, betchy baby it would be this novel.
For The Betch Who Won’t STFU About Her Wedding: ‘The People We Hate At The Wedding’ By Grant Ginder
The book is not, I presume, simply the word “everyone” written over and over. Rather, it’s about a super dysfunctional family whose daughter is marrying some bougie-ass British guy in London. The mom is a pothead, the single daughter is facing a quarter-life crisis (hi), the gay son has a shitty boyfriend, the bride is a hot mess… no, I promise I didn’t just look through your family tree and come up with that. It’s really what the book is about. Oh, and lots of wine is involved.
For The Betch Who Watches Too Many Rom Coms: ‘The Hating Game’ By Sally Thorne
Yah this came out in summer 2016 but I’m including it because it’s just that good. This book honestly starts out just like every rom com: Boy meets girl. Boy and girl hate each other with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. Boy and girl constantly throw shade at each other at the publishing company at which they work. This one has Pam and Jim vibes written allll over it, but like less annoying and more sexy. It’s light and fun and you’ll probs finish it before your
sunburn tan sets in.
For The Betch Who’s Having A Quarter-Life Crisis: ‘Chemistry’ By Weike Wang
If you’re in grad school or just hate your life in general, you’ll relate to this breezy read by Weike Wang about a millennial-aged female who’s dealing with a PhD-induced nervous breakdown and grappling with uncertainty about whether or not she should marry her nice guy boyfriend. I mean, that’s what was happening when I started this book earlier today, and I’m already v into it, so.
For The Betch Whose Family Deserves Their Own Reality Show: ‘Spoonbenders’ By Daryl Gregory
This is a novel about a lovable family of psychics, and no I’m not high. This novel has everything: psychics. The mob. The CIA. It’s kind of like Arrested Development meets The Incredibles since every member of the family has their own special psychic powers and they’re all batshit. Since I already fulfilled my quota of dysfunctional familes on TV aka I binge watched all of Schitt’s Creek on Netflix, and because bringing my laptop to the pool is highly inadvisable, I’m going to be reading this shit ASAP.
For The Betch Who’s A Delusional Dater: ‘I Had A Nice Time And Other Lies: How To Find Love And Sh*t Like That’ By The Betches
Let’s say you have a friend who dates fuckboy after fuckboy and thinks getting a “WYD tonight?” text before 11pm is romantic. You’ve tried everything short of a sit-down intervention with this girl because you just can’t listen to her cry over the same asshole YET AGAIN. Save yourself the awkwardness of a confrontation and just give her our dating advice book. We cover every stage of a relationship, from your first Bumble meet up (and how not to sound like a psycho in your profile), to the first date, to becoming FB Official and beyond. We’ll give you our signature advice every step of the way, in the way only the Betches can do it: snarky and real AF. I Had A Nice Time is newly available on paperback so bringing it to the beach is less of a schlep.
So, between making predictions for the next Bachelorette season, and indulging in some Southern Charm, we’ve decided to engage in some more intellectual viewership with our newest obsession: The Handmaid’s Tale. For those of you who have been living under a rock and missed the thousands of promotional photos of Elisabeth Moss in a white bonnet, The Handmaid’s Tale is Hulu’s latest (and best) attempt at becoming Netflix. Based off Margaret Atwood’s bestseller by the same name, The Handmaid’s Tale tells the story of a woman named Offred living in a dystopian future where an oppressive theocracy forces all fertile women into sexual servitude. Damn. I could have been an English major.
Basically, if you’ve ever looked around and the Trump Administration and thought, “honestly, let’s turn this up a notch!” then The Handmaid’s Tale is for you.
So, given that we’re all feminists now, it’s only appropriate that we add a Handmaid’s Tale to our regular rotation of recaps, right alongside The Bachelor and Are You The One. Seems appropriate.
So let’s dive in, because we are like, four episodes late.
Episode 1: Offred
Welcome to the cheerful world of Gilead, where “bitches be crazy” has been made law. You know shit is bad because all the colors are muted and grainy like Kim Kardashian’s post-robbery Instagram aesthetic.
We open on Elisabeth Moss and her hipster husband comforting their literally gorgeous child. Things are not going great. We learn via flashback the U.S. has gone to shit and women are being rounded up and made to wear weird red outfits and say religious-sounding shit like, “Blessed be the fruit,” and “May the Lord open.” We’re not sure exactly why this happened, but I imagine it’s because Democrats failed to take back the House in 2018.
The flashback also shows Elisabeth Moss’ husband being killed, and her gorgeous child being taken away by police. It’s like, very upsetting.
Cut to the future where shit is all fucked up. We learn Elisabeth Moss’ name is Offred (because her master/owner guy’s name is Fred so she’s Of Fred, get it?) and she’s not allowed to hang out with anyone except Alexis Bledel (Ofglen), who Offred finds annoying. Same.
Offred: Blessed be the fruit.
Inner Offred: Get this bitch out of my face.
Offred and Ofglen are basically only allowed to go to the grocery store and back, so for that reason, handmaids be shoppin’. Other than that, Offred spends all day in the house with her owner Mr. Waterford (whose name is Fred, I guess) and his wife, Serna Joy, who gets to wear green and doesn’t have a hat. Interesting.
There’s also a hot(ish) driver/gardener guy who may or may not be a spy and may or may not have a thing for Offred.
Hot(ish) Driver/Gardener Guy: Hey Offred.
Offred: I can’t fucking talk to you dumbass I’m a handmaid.
Offred and Ofglen go for a little walk along the river, and Ofglen reveals that she’s not annoying and is, in fact, a cool lesbian.
Flashback to a place called “The Red Center” where a horrible Ms. Trunchbull lookin’ lady named Aunt Lydia (sound like a brand of douche, TBH) is letting the handmaids know what’s good about their new situation.
Aunt Lydia: And, in conclusion, you will all now be gifted to a man where you will have to lay in between his wife’s legs and have sex with him until you get pregnant. It’s all pretty straightforward.
Handmaids: Say what now?
Offred sees her old weed smoking buddy,
Poussey Moira, at The Red Center, but Moira gives her a look like “don’t fucking say anything” so Offred doesn’t say hi.
The chick sitting next to Offred at the RC clearly has no clue what’s up. She’s out here acting like the government wasn’t just taken over by an oppressive patriarchal religious something-or-other, mouthing off and giving attitude like this is first period gym. Her name is Janine, and things are going to get very difficult for her.
Janine: Fuck off, Aunt Lydia.
Aunt Lydia: *Tases her and pops her eye out*
So now we finally get to what we’ve all been dreading all along: the sex stuff, henceforth referred to as “the ceremony.” Offred takes a bath and goes to meet up with the SJ, who does not like Offred, because of the whole thing where she has to watch Offred fuck her husband once a month. Mr. Waterford shows up and reads a bunch of weird Bible verses about some chick named Rachel who let her husband fuck her handmaid, which appears to be the religious basis for why this is happening.
Then we see The Ceremony take place and it’s very disturbing. The whole thing ends with Serena Joy yelling at Offred and Offred leaving like, “lol remember when I had a job and a husband and an Uber account?”
Cut back to Moira giving Offred some very, very good advice: If you ever want to see your little girl again, you need to keep your shit together.
This is like, Offred’s mantra now.
Now we get to the craziest part of the entire episode (surprisingly not The Ceremony), which is when all the handmaids are forced to gather in a field for “The Savaging,” which is basically what you do to a friend’s ex in your group text but real and someone dies. Basically we learn when someone commits a crime, the handmaids all get to jump him. It’s a lot.
Offred: Hmmm…I wonder if Moira is here.
Crazy Ass Eyeless Pregnant Janine: Oh Moira is dead.
Offred: Wow okay nobody fucking asked you Janine.
We find out from crazy-ass one-eyeball preggo Janine that Moira was caught escaping and was sent “to the colonies” which is apparently a place that is so disgusting and full of toxic waste that anyone who gets sent there dies within like, a week and all their skin falls of. So basically, modern day Florida.
After straight-up killing a dude, Offred and Ofglen walk home like, “lol that was crazy I can’t believe we did that!” The two of them are slowly becoming BFFs, which, in Gilead, is the most dangerous thing two women can be.
Offred: Alright, well, this is me. Seeya later, may the Lord whatever, etc etc…
Ofglen: THERE’S A SPY IN YOUR HOUSE!!!!!!
Offred : My real name is June and I’m about to kirk.
Episode 2: Birth Day
This whole episode centers around Crazy-Ass One Eyeball Janine, who is about to give birth. Like everything in Gilead, the birthing process is both disturbing and extra.
We open up on The Ceremony again, because Hulu knows that we’re all freaks who slow down to see car wrecks and that this is what we want to see. Nobody involved looks like they are having a remotely pleasurable time, even Mr. Waterford, who obviously has the upper hand in this whole situation. Homebody doesn’t even take off his shoes.
Offred Interior Monologue: Hurry the fuck up.
Audience: Been there, sister.
Once the Ceremony is done, Offred is free to hang out with her new bestie Alexis Bledel, aka Offred. They take a nice stroll past a pile of dead bodies and make sure there are no Eyes (what they call spies—very original) before diving into a deep shit talking session.
Ofglen: Btw did you hear that they blew up St. Peter’s cathedral?
Offred: Wait, how tf do you know that? And how do you know there’s a spy in my house? What’s your fucking deal?
Ofglen: Omg there’s a resistance, did you not hear? So embarrassing. I’ll send you the invite.
Offred heads back into the house to chill, when Nick, the hot(ish) gardener/driver dude is like, “don’t hang out with Ofglen” and leaves. It’s unclear if he knows something or is just being a jealous little bitch.
Nick: Btw, Mr. Waterford wants to see you alone.
Inner Offred: I’m fucking dead.
Now it is time for Crazy-Ass One Eyeball Janine to give birth. Much like The Ceremony that brought us to the birthing, everything is all fucked up and involves 2-15 too many people. On floor one, all the wives are laying around in their blue dresses eating macarons and pretending to give birth. On floor two, Crazy-Ass One Eyeball Janine is actually pushing out a kid.
Wife One: Hey Offred, want a cookie?
Inner Offred: There are like, ten thousand things that I want more than this fucking cookie right now.
Janine gets into the final stretch of giving birth and, like everything in The Handmaid’s Tale, shit goes from bad to worse. Wife 1, who has been playing pretend pregnant all day, shows up and wraps her legs around Janine so that they look like a two-headed birth monster. The baby is born and they immediately take it and give it to the wife, and everybody pretends like they don’t know which vagina this baby actually came from.
Crazy-Ass One Eyeball Janine: Cool. It’s cool. You can have my baby.
Inner Crazy-Ass One Eyeball Janine: I’m gonna bite you next episode for this.
The episode ends with Offred showing up at Mr. Waterford’s office,
Offred: Are you going to kill me?
Mr. Waterford: Sort of. We’re going to play scrabble.
Like any good bestie, Offred is very excited to tell Ofglen/Alexis Bledel about her weird AF scrabble date. But—DUN DUN DUN—it’s not Ofglen/Alexis Bledel at the gate! It’s Ofglen/Some Random Bitch!!!!
Offred: Excuse me, but who the fuck are you?
Ofglen/Some Random Bitch: I’m Ofglen.
Offred/Everyone Watching: Fuck.
Episode 3: Late
We start this question with one question on everybody’s mind: Where the fuck is Alexis Bledel? Stolen away, apparently, by The Eyes, and send to a place with very aggressive lighting.
Offred is so preoccupied with Ofglen’s disappearance that she doesn’t realize she hasn’t gotten her period yet, which is like, a huge fucking deal.
The first hint we get that something is up is when Rita the cook (cooks are reffered to as ‘Marthas’ btw), who is usually a huge bitch to Offred, is being all fake-nice to her and shit like this is sorority rush. In fact, everyone is being super fake to Offred now because they think she’s pregnant, even Serena Joy, who is usually the biggest bitch of all.
“Nice” in The Handmaid’s Tale universe, btw, means that Offred gets to eat ice cream.
Rita: Hey Offred! Want some ice cream?
Offred: Hmm…I’d prefer my child back, actually, but thanks.
Meanwhile, New Ofglen is a total narc, and it reminds Offred of when she and Moira used to chill and go jogging together to a local coffee shop where the barista, who has clearly suffered one two many Tinder rejections in his day, calls them “sluts” for wearing shorts. Way harsh, Tai.
Offred Interior Monologue: When they slaughtered congress, we didn’t wake up. When they blamed terrorists and suspended the Constitution, we didn’t wake up either. They said it would be temporary. Nothing changes instantaneously. In a gradual, heating bath tub, you’d be dead before you knew it.
Audience: Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump
We see another flashback to Offred trying to see if her direct deposit hit, and finding out that all of her money has been taken away and transferred to her husband. Also women can’t have jobs anymore. Cool.
Cut to Serena Joy, who has literally no chill about the fact that Offred might be pregnant.
Serena Joy: Want to go visit Crazy-Ass One Eyeball Janine? Maybe her pregnancy juice will rub off on you!!!!!
Offred: That’s literally not how this works but whatever I just want to get out of the house.
Crazy-Ass One Eyeball Janine is crazier than ever now that she’s had a baby. We find out that she actually bit the wife for holding the baby wrong, which you’d think would lose her that second eyeball, but actually things are kind of great for Janine right now. I mean, as great as it gets for handmaids.
Offred: Janine you can’t bite people wtf
Janine: Actually, I gave birth to a healthy baby and now I can do whatever the fuck I want. I can even have ice cream.
Offred: Again with the fucking ice cream.
Janine then reveals that on top of having one eye and being totally bat shit nuts, she’s also a delusional dater who thinks her owner guy is in love with her and that he said they’re gonna run away together. Turns out fuckboys are thriving in Gilead.
Shit hits the fan when Offred returns home and realizes that one of The Eyes is at her house and hot(ish) Nick brought her straight to them.
Hot(ish) Nick: Tell them everything.
Offred: Umm wow dude I thought we had a thing?
Surprise, surprise, Aunt Lydia is here along with some dude who works for The Eyes, and double surprise, they pull out a taser and tase Offred like, immediately.
Offred, who is on some kind of high because of all the ice cream she’s been offered, tries to get mouthy with The Eye and tells him that she knew Ofglen was gay. “Gay” is a forbidden word, so Aunt Lydia commences beating the shit out of her.
Serena Joy: WTF are you doing she’s pregnant!
Aunt Lydia: My bad.
Cut to Ofglen in a jail trying to give a guard a handjob in exchange for her freedom.
Ofglen: How about a nice handjob?
Ofglen: This is so embarrassing.
Ofglen appears before an all-male
Senate Task Force On Health Care court who sentence her to “redemption” for being gay. While Ofglen, who has two good ovaries, is allowed to survive, the Martha (cook) that she was in a relationship with is not so lucky. They sentence her to death and straight up hang her right in front of Ofglen.
But that’s not the worst shit that’s going to happen to good ol’ Offie-G. More on that later.
Flashback to a protest that looks a fuck ton like the Women’s March minus all the pink hats. It didn’t work. They should have made the hats.
Cut to Offred getting her period and realizing that the free ice cream train has come to an end. She tells Serena Joy, who promptly loses it and locks Offred in a room.
But we don’t really have time to be upset about that because next we check in with Ofglen, where shit is approximately ten thousand times worse. How “worse” is it? Well…
Are you ready?
Are you sitting down?
Do you have like, an ice pack nearby for your vag?
Here we go.
The bastards cut Ofglen’s clit off.
That’s right. The punishment for being gay is that they knock you out and destroy your platinum vagine.
You know, I’m starting to think this Gilead place is pretty fucked up.