Take What You Need by Idra Novey [Book Review]

Take What You Need by author Idra Novey is an incredibly engaging novel about broken relationships in modern times. Read my review!

Take What You Need is a story about a broken relationship between a daughter and her former stepmother. Author Idra Novey has painted brutally real characters that will keep you engaged as you flip page after page. I happily gave the novel 4 out of 5 stars.


Set in the Allegheny Mountains of Appalachia, Take What You Need tracks the aftermath of a long estrangement between a stepmother and daughter. Leah is a web editor and young mother who’s sought an urban life and clean break from her rural childhood. But with her stepmother Jean’s death, Leah must return to sort through what’s been left behind.

What Leah discovers is astonishing: Jean has filled the house with giant sculptures she’s welded from scraps of the area’s industrial history. There’s also a young man now living in the house who’s played an unknown role in Jean’s last years and in her art. []

My review:

Take What You Need exceeded my expectations, and I was pleasantly surprised. I knew it would be interesting based on the synopsis, but as soon as I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. The story is exceptionally well written, and the characters, particularly Jean, felt so real to me. I could read endlessly about her.

Take What You Need centers on the relationships between artist Jean and Leah, her former stepdaughter, as well as Jean and a young man from the neighborhood named Elliot. She is estranged from Leah and lives a very solitary life in her childhood home. When she meets the son of a neighboring family, Elliot, they develop a strange friendship around their shared interest in welding. Welding has become Jean’s life, and she pours her heart and history into each of her creations. She hopes one day to reconnect with Leah and share her unique and artistic creations.

My final thoughts:

Idra Novey’s Take What You Need isn’t an action-packed story, but it’s a pageturner nonetheless. The overall story is simple: a woman dies, and her estranged stepdaughter returns home, only to regret not connecting sooner. The relationships are so honest and real, and the writing is provocative. I am so grateful this book found me, and in my opinion, in a busy, busy world, this book is worthy of your time!

Thank you to NetGalley and Viking for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.