Burnt out from spending her days at a soul-crushing Silicon Valley start-up, Cassie spends her nights staring into the void—and dealing with the literal black hole that has been her constant companion since she was a little girl. In Sarah Rose Etter’s surreal follow-up to her 2019 debut, The Book of X, Cassie’s black hole becomes an apt metaphor for depression, growing to the size of a melon or becoming big enough to block out the sun depending on the state of her angst. Etter’s prose is so visceral it’s hard not to get caught up in Cassie’s infinite sadness. After discovering that she is pregnant, Cassie begins to wonder what it would be like to jump into the hole. Would it tear her apart or send her to some alternate dimension where she would finally be happy? Etter wrote Ripe after the death of her father, when she felt a cloud of grief following her around. Like the author, Cassie’s black hole becomes a necessary evil; she must embrace the darkness in order to find the light. —Shannon Carlin
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