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by Ashley Wurzbacher

HOW TO CARE FOR A HUMAN GIRL by Ashley Wurzbacher

Atria (S&S) August 8, 2023

HOW TO CARE FOR A HUMAN GIRL is a bighearted and sharply funny debut novel about two estranged sisters and the crossroads they face after becoming unexpectedly pregnant at the same time. The title will follow Ashley’s short story collection, which was published in 2019 to widespread praise, for which she was honored as a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35”, and with the New York Times calling her “a writer at the top of her game.”

Two years after the death of their mother, Jada and Maddy Battle both face unplanned pregnancies. Jada, a thirty-one-year-old psychology PhD student living in Pittsburgh, quietly obtains an abortion without telling her husband, but the secret causes turmoil in her already shaky marriage. Back home in rural Pennsylvania, nineteen-year-old Maddy, who spends her time caring for birds at a wildlife rehabilitation center, is paid off by the man who got her pregnant to get an abortion. But an unsettling visit to a crisis pregnancy center adds to her doubts about whether to go through with it.

Although Maddy still hasn’t forgiven Jada for a terrible betrayal, she goes to her for support, only to discover the cracks in the façade of her sister’s seemingly perfect life. As their past resentments boil over, the sisters must navigate the consequences of their choices and determine how best to care for themselves and each other.

With luminous prose and laser-sharp psychological insight, How to Care for a Human Girl is a compassionate and unforgettable examination of the complexities of choice and the special intimacy of sisterhood.

ASHLEY WURZBACHER is the author of the story collection HAPPY LIKE THIS, which won the 2019 Iowa Short Fiction Award and was named a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree and a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Born and raised in Western Pennsylvania, she currently lives in Birmingham, Alabama and teaches at the University of Montevallo.


**National Book Award 5 under 35 honoree**

**Winner of the 2019 Iowa Short Fiction Award**

**New York Times Editor’s Choice**

“Wurzbacher...deploys her encyclopedic command of various ideas, regions, professions and lexicons with the authority of seasoned masters like Adam Johnson. This is a writer at the top of her game; but hopefully she's only just getting started.”—The New York Times

“Wurzbacher's incisive, polychromatic story collection centers on the dizzying complexities of female friendships: how they fray and mend over time and are often imbued with the intensity of love affairs.” —Oprah Magazine

“Wurzbacher dives into the lives of women in this brilliant collection, examining the ways they live and relate to each other while harboring their own secrets and feelings. Her lyrical prose and unflinchingly confrontational voice are powerful and captivating.” —★Booklist (Starred Review)

"I love these dark, lyrical, sinewy stories about women's relationships with their bodies and with each other. It's the sort of theme that could feel irritably well-trod, but that's not the case here at all; these stories surprised me at every turn. And the writing is so gorgeous!” —Carmen Maria Machado, judge, 2019 John Simmons Short Fiction Award