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I loved this book. There are a thousand ways to write a sentence, and Merritt Tierce seems to find the newest, best one, unique, not all put together, and exactly perfect. It’s not the most uplifting tale, and yet there is so much heart to Marie and her troubled desperation to survive in spite of herself. I feel like I should say that it’s a raw book, but it’s really not, because the writing is so good. And though it's young and fresh, it's not hip. Nothing is ironic. It just feels real, red, America. Like the premium steak served rare at The Restaurant where Marie works, this book is smooth and rich despite the bloodiness of its truth.— Melinda
Lost in early adulthood and the riot of the service industry, Marie attempts to numb herself with work, sex, and drugs. She's a young mother who’s never felt motherly; she gives everyone her body but keeps her heart closed; she’s a vegetarian working in an upscale steakhouse. Merritt Tierce spares no detail of Marie’s reckless self-destruction in a way that’s shocking without sensationalism. There is nothing flashy here, where a less adept writer could misstep into melodrama. Love Me Back searing, raw, and matter-of-fact. Tierce’s stunning ability to convey Marie’s desolation without just telling is effortless and real. Rarely do we get observations from our damaged narrator about her emotions—because she herself doesn’t want to look there—but when we do, they drop like anvils. We feel her ache, her desperation, her brokenness so fully. Expertly written and completely consuming. A page-turner of the least fluffy, fiercest variety.— Julia
Waitressing at a fancy restaurant where patrons are both noxious and moneyed, 20-something Marie lives out the complexities of modern womanhood. She spends her shifts planning her nights—mostly spent with an uncaring lover or mournfully fussing over her baby girl. Yet there is a self-awareness in her voice that begs you to consider life’s small complexities. This is a hurricane between two covers, but you’ll not regret being whirled away.— Louise
“Not for the faint of heart or for those who need redemptive tales, Love Me Back is the story of Marie, a very smart, hard-working, but self-destructive young woman waitressing at a high-end restaurant in Dallas. In spare prose, Tierce brings the reader inside the world of the service industry and inside the head of a 20-something who makes many bad choices. Drugs, alcohol, casual sex, rundown apartments - these are the everyday things of Marie's existence. Tierce skillfully draws the reader into this world with a story that is eye opening, sometimes shocking, but never dull. Recommended!”
— Ellen Burns, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT
“Love Me Back never flinches, and woe to the reader who comes to this book with the expectation of healing, redemption, a heartwarming tale of human resilience or any of the other fatuous dreck that all too often passes for 'literary fiction' these days. You won't find so much as a sentimental comma in this staggeringly fine debut novel, and that's part of the thrill and terror of reading it. Merritt Tierce goes headfirst into the stuff of life as it's actually lived, with all its messy contortions and life-changing catastrophes, its schizophrenically mixed motives, its demolition derbies of sex and love and our endless yearning for that sweet spot in between. Tierce roams like an avenging angel across the landscape of 21st-century American decadence, and the truths she writes achieve a state of near-sacred subversion."
—Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
“LOVE ME BACK is breathtaking, addictive, sexy, raw and honest. I found myself gasping at the beauty and sadness of this tale of a bright, damaged young woman trapped in a service industry life -- I felt her bruises right through the page. Merritt Tierce has written my favorite debut of the year.”
--Jami Attenberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Middlesteins
"Assembled of sentences unflinching, flirtatious, both raw and surgically precise, Love Me Back is absolutely enthralling from first word to last. A lurid and devastating diorama of womanhood within the so-called service industry, it's also one of the most vital books about our invisible underclass I've read in years. Merritt Tierce is here to stay."
—Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Battleborn
“Marie, the young, self-destructive woman in Merritt Tierce's sad and dirty and beautifully written novel, Love Me Back, is one of the most memorable characters I've ever come across in fiction. Merritt Tierce is a hell of a writer. Believe me, after reading this book, you will never look at your waitress in quite the same way again.”
—Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Devil All the Time
"Merritt Tierce's debut novel, Love Me Back, is a gorgeous, dirty razor of prose--sharp and dangerous and breathtaking. This is a defiant story about a young woman choosing the life and motherhood that is best for her, without apology. At times, Love Me Back puts Marie into such vulnerable, honest, reckless places you want to cringe, but the fierce strength of Tierce's writing and the electric wonder of Marie's character will not allow you to look away."
--Roxane Gay, author of An Untamed State