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MAN'S BEST FRIEND by Alana B. Lytle


by Alana B. Lytle

Pub Date: May 14th, 2024
ISBN: 9780593715024
Publisher: Putnam

A floundering young woman gains access to a world of privilege through her mysterious new boyfriend.

Twenty-nine-year-old El is used to living on the fringes. She spent her teen years in Manhattan in a cramped apartment with her single mother and her mother’s best friend, sharing a bedroom with the friend’s son. She received financial aid to attend a prestigious private school filled with ultrarich students but had only tangential access to their lives of quiet luxury. Even now, El can’t break through in her career as an actor, instead working in a bakery and trying to figure out her next move. When El’s old classmate Julia unexpectedly offers an invitation to a party at her family’s East Hampton home, El can’t resist returning to that tony world, even for just one night. It’s there that El meets Bryce, a Cambridge graduate from a filthy rich family who is immediately, and intensely, taken with her. Though El isn’t particularly attracted to Bryce’s looks or personality, she’s attracted to what being with him brings—the life of ease and financial security she’s always wanted. When the two quickly move in together, El begins to lose touch with the world outside her relationship, quitting her job, dumping her roommate, and ghosting her friends—just as Bryce’s true nature starts coming to light. The author is deft at creating a tense atmosphere—complete with suspicious characters, sinister motivations, disturbing events, and an off-kilter narrator—that will keep readers turning the pages. But the lackluster conclusion strains credulity, and a symbolic thread that runs throughout the novel—dogs across the country are running away from and rebelling against their owners—is unsuccessful and, ultimately, has no bearing on the plot.

After a promising start, this debut ends up being all bark, no bite.