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Abandon Me paperback jacket 978163286658

LAMBDA Literary Award finalist

Publishing Triangle Award finalist

Indie Next Pick

Best Book of 2017 by Book Riot, Esquire, Refinery 29, The Cut, Bustle, Medium, The Brooklyn Rail, Largehearted Boy, Salon, The Rumpus, and others. 


“Abandon Me is an assemblage of lyric essays as intellectually sophisticated as they are emotionally stirring; a series of unflinching reflections and honest accounts of transformation that Febos refuses to let pass without scrutiny…Febos complicates the human desire for connection with explorations in philosophy, psychology, and accounts of historical repression that seduce readers into inhabiting her myths while resisting sentimentality by dismantling the fictions with deft intellectual probing reminiscent of the work of Maggie Nelson.” BOMB Magazine


“Bold…mesmerizing…the sheer fearlessness of the narrative is captivating.” —The New Yorker


“The second set of memoirs from Melissa Febos is as absolutely riveting as the first: Composed of essays that explore the relationships that tie us all together, it's emotionally raw and stirring in a way that will have you aching for more." —Newsweek


“The beautiful and bleak are shown with glistening coherence…The interwoven essays of Abandon Me emphasize the necessarily constructed nature of life narratives. Misery, as Philip Larkin has it, ‘deepens like a coastal shelf.’ Yet Melissa Febos’s essays, while testifying to the truth of that process, also highlight the possibility of redemption, of something else that’s deepening: our understanding.” —Times Literary Supplement


"Anyone who's read Febos...knows that her work explores boundaries as deftly as it defies categorization. In this new collection of essays, she once again obliterates convention with her erotically charged and intellectually astute recollections of family, relationships and the search for identity.” —Esquire, “Best Books of 2017 (So Far)”


“[Abandon Me] is both intensely intimate and wide-ranging, as she pulls together insights from sources as disparate as psychoanalyst Carl Jung, jazz singer Billie Holiday and an ancient alchemical text. Febos is voracious in her emotional cravings, but none is stronger than her desire to know and own herself. The hard-won ending (truly, a beginning) is exhilarating.” Dawn Raffel for O Magazine


“This unflinching, lyrical, and often crushing memoir about love and the need for co—nection is a must-read. As with her prior memoir, Febos’s honest examination of her own life makes for quite an aggressive personal narrative about the search for love and identity.” —The Advocate


“Abandon Me’s publisher marketed this book as one for fans of Leslie Jamison and Maggie Nelson, which sounds like a great way to set readers up for disappointment – but remarkably, Melissa Febos’s narrative lives up to the comparison. This sensual, raw personal book examines love and closeness as forces that aren’t just exhilarating, but gross, maddening, and destructive. I don’t often mark up books that aren’t theoretical or political, but I found myself reaching for a pen to underline poignant phrases that made me forget to breathe while reading.” —The Cut


“Febos’ second book of memoirs dissects some of her most intimate relationships: with her absent birth father, with the man who raised her, and with the woman she turbulently loved. This is for people who love essays that haul great truths out of deep vulnerability.” —Electric Literature


"No subject is off-limits to Febos. She authorizes her reader to be braver, to dig deeper into their own secrets and to research those secrets in history...In her close reading and recording of her own life, Febos universalizes the pain of waiting…with each new piece Febos bends time." —The Rumpus

"Erotic and dark, the book is a courageous exploration of love as the ultimate form of plenitude and annihilation. A lyrically visceral memoir of love and loss." —Kirkus Reviews


"Her mastery over metaphor is astonishing . . . What might be mere navel-gazing for a less brilliant author is made powerfully universal here. Though the particulars are hers, just about anyone can relate to the feeling of a chasm opening up inside. Febos’s awakening to her full identity, even its ugliness, is a powerful and redemptive epic."        —starred review, Publishers Weekly

“It’s easy to fall in love with Melissa Febos’ gorgeous new memoir of short essays. Febos brings a relentless curiosity and startling intimacy to the page…With her careful observations and introspection, she transcends isolation and captures the boundless nature of human emotion. Abandon Me is a fierce exploration of love and obsession, but it is something else as well—the story of woman who is unafraid to explore the harsh truths and choices that shape our lives.”      —LAMBDA Literary


"Lovely, very deep essays. It's raw and vulnerable; the writing is gorgeous. I never thought I'd like reading a whole essay about hickies, but it's smart and surprising. If you like Maggie Nelson and Leslie Jamison, it will be right up your alley. I was very surprised and immediately gripped from the first page by the quality of her writing and by how open she's uncommon." —Book Riot


“Melissa Febos knows something about the secret threads binding pleasure and pain, the heliotropic pull of the light and the hypnotic tug of darkness…Perhaps the most striking achievement of [Abandon Me] is Febos’s treatment of the alchemy of pain. To seek pain is not evidence of an instinct for self-destruction. ‘I was not a masochist,’ Febos insists, in spite of her history of using her body like a hammer, pushing it to the boundaries of what it can endure. ‘I never wanted to die.’” —Los Angeles Review of Books


“Melissa Febos is a gorgeously lyrical and insightful writer…this book is a recording and reckoning of love and loss and longing, evoked in gorgeous language dripping with sensuality, hope, and pain…She expiates her pain in this book, and readers do receive it as a pretty throbbing thing, like holding someone’s heart…We recognize our own losses in hers and understand them better through her wisdom and insight. We feel relieved to see them so beautifully and viscerally rendered.” —Ploughshares


“A raw, brave work about truly knowing oneself.” ­­—Library Journal


“[In this] collection of self-aware, stylish, autobiographical essays on love, addiction, and inheritance, Febos harnesses language, moods, actions, and settings with precision. A professor of creative writing, she stuns with sentences that are a credit to her craft and will no doubt inspire her readers.” —Booklist


"Febos’s gifts as a writer seemingly increase with the types of subjects and themes that typically falter in the hands of many memoirists...Febos transports, but her lyricism is always grounded in the now, in the sweet music of loss." – The Millions


“The essays build into an interrogation of relationships, idolization, and how the author's past intertwines with cultural history. Though the book explores bonds that Febos has with others—lovers, friends, lost and found family members—the relationship it ultimately depicts is the one that she builds with herself. It is also an origin story about creating the life of an activist, artist, teacher, and cultural theorist.” —Bookforum


“Febos’s past heroin use, her birth father’s alcoholism, and the other addictions that manifest throughout Abandon Me are devastating and lyrical, but nothing compares to her ‘wrecking shore’ of a love affair. This part of the book, which I can only critique by lamenting that it was not long enough…which is why I reread the final ten pages a dozen times…Finishing the book felt like lying in bed after sex with a new lover, hoping arms would close around me but not wanting to ask for it.” —Brooklyn Magazine


"A desire for single-mindedness powers Febos’s artistic pursuits, but she knows that very impulse—to be not just preoccupied, but obsessed and consumed—can be destructive, too...That’s a central concern of Abandon Me, a memoir in eight connected essays. The book starts by exploring her relationship to an absent father—“abandon,” as in left. But it’s also about another sense of the verb—“abandon,” to give oneself recklessly and completely. From heroin addiction to romantic infatuation, the book considers forces powerful enough to inspire utter devotion, and the way that posture can both destroy and redeem." —The Atlantic


“The structures of the best memoirs are recursive, much as the human mind operates — a little of the present, a little of the past, and back again. But it’s a structure demanding astonishing control. Febos is a learned, lyrical writer, as well as an associative thinker…Just as a Wunderkammer’s contents fascinated in part because they objectified something fundamentally unknowable — the ancient past, the ocean depths, exotic ethnologies — Febos invites readers to examine the contents of her life. Alcoholism, drug addiction, desire, dependency, she fearlessly lays them out before us and probes them with the analytic eye of a diagnostician. And nothing does she dissect more painstakingly nor with more honesty than love.” —Washington Independent


“Searing and eye-opening at every turn…a must-read.” –The Huffington Post


“A frequently stunning book, dealing with questions of family, identity, and intimacy.” –Vol. 1 Brooklyn


“In her second book, Febos examines the many loves of her life—lovers as well as family—with her distinctive blend of lush language and relentless intelligence.”     —Jackie Thomas-Kennedy, for Publishers Weekly


"Intimate and mesmerizingly vulnerable, Abandon Me is a book that gets at the heart of who we love, how we love--and why." —Refinery29


"Febos has established herself as a gifted writer with deep reserves of empathy and a bottomless hunger for personal truth. . . . Her prose is exciting and inviting because it feels both raw and lived in." —Guernica


"Abandon Me explores love, art, and history with bracing honesty and a vibrant sense of intellectual curiosity. Weaving together a doomed love affair, family history, and difficult aspects of her past, Abandon Me is a beautifully written journey through Febos’ world." —Buzzfeed


“Riveting…Abandon Me proves unequivocally that there must be room in the literary canon for the complexity of women’s stories on erotic fixation and loss.” —Bitch Magazine

“The pages of Abandon Me are filled with extraordinary and honest details. Febos takes us on her journey to find her birth father and also self-love.” —The Dallas Observer


“After the age of irony and clever or snarky tweets, it is refreshing to see a work that is as earnest and heartfelt as Abandon Me. Even through this earnestness, Febos manages to add in a complexity and density that keeps the work interesting. After all, not every book ranges over as diverse topics as David Bowie, Borges, and Jungian analysis. These wide ranging interests help to make Abandon Me a lively, surprising, and distinctive book…. there is a genuine sense of weight and intellectual rigor. She has found a way to investigate universal tensions while straddling academic, theoretical discussions and more personal, confessional writing. It will certainly be interesting to track where Febos goes from here. It would be easy to view Abandon Me as a magnum opus…All of this material makes the book one not to be missed.” —The Kenyon Review


“Abandon Me doesn’t have graphic, shocking scenes like Febos’s first, instead she goes further into the messy vulnerable, human parts of herself…I devoured these pages. Curled up on my couch, I sometimes looked up as if someone might catch me in the act of crawling into her mind and living there for a while. It felt like I was being folded into her prose.” —Natassja Schiel for The Millions


“I’ve heard it said that memoir asks not what happened, but rather, what the f*^%* happened, and throughout Abandon Me, Febos returns again and again, in lush prose, to this question. It isn’t the answer that’s most compelling (answers seldom are). Rather, it’s the invitation Abandon Me offers the reader: to board her own ship, to hold her breath, and to leap into a dark and lyrical sea.”       Carmen Dezen Hammon for Hunger Mountain


"Febos is a talented writer with a colorful personal history." —The Washington Post


“Fans of Febos’ previous memoir, Whip Smart will find Abandon Me a delicious follow-up to the salacious stories of her work as a dominatrix. Those new to her writing will be insatiable for more after digging into her new offering, which details the queer writer’s relationship to love, loss and erotic addiction." —GO Magazine


“A gut-wrenching read. Febos’s writing is raw and unyielding. Bring tissues.” —NYLON


“Peel back the layers of the seven interconnected essays in her latest work of non-fiction, Abandon Me, and you’ll find many of the thematic concerns that compelled Febos in her first book: reconciling multiple identities, exploring the complexities and contradictions of human sexuality and romantic love, recognizing the continuity and connection between our bodily and intellectual selves…Febos’s latest memoir is a non-linear adventure in healing, a text that recognizes personal stories have the ability to influence collective memory, build worldviews and shape what we perceive as history.” —Hazlitt


“[Febos is] a gorgeous writer . . . The visceral beauty of [some] scenes is matched in evocations of the sheltered Cape Cod where she grew up, its shores, lake and woodlands replete with childhood tests and dangers. Fairy tales are ribboned into the essays, as well as myth, philosophy, Jung, Rilke and pop culture mirrors such as ‘Freaks and Geeks’ — and much more.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune


“Abandon Me is an exploration of self-discovery. Febos’s collection of memoirs explores not only the act of abandoning, but also different types of love and growing up…Febos meditates over the concept of abandonment quite like [Leslie] Jamison meditates on the idea of empathy…sketches in staggering detail her adolescence of abandonment.” —Chicago Review of Books


"Febos’ writing is unflinching, and her willingness to delve into her darkest corners avoids becoming overwhelming only because she handles it with strength and delicacy. Abandon Me finds the universal in her own story and taps into many people’s fears, pushing the reader to question what they might abandon themselves to or let themselves abandon.  —PASTE Magazine


"There is something pioneering about the way Melissa Febos talks about love, connecting it to all its binary shadows. . . . this book as a treatise on the siren call that leads us to re-stage events that have wounded us, so that we can produce a different ending, is absolutely luminous. The writing is crisp and unsettling." —KQED Arts


“Abandon Me is a sonorous collection of concentric essays…Febos’ lyrical musings are intercut with astronomy, antiquity, and pop culture analyses—from Ferdinand the Bull to the musical fantasy film Labyrinth…Febos engages a process of self-discovery that confirms an exceptional skill at illuminating universal truths.” —Megan Labrise for Kirkus Reviews

“Her new book of interconnected essays, Abandon Me, is somehow even braver [than Whip Smart]. She delves deeper into the clouded waters of herself, writing about her childhood living in a small coastal town, and plaiting two passages of her own: meeting her biological father and his family, and an obsessive love affair that becomes as combustive as any addiction. Here is a work that is both poetic and narrative, compassionate, raw and original. Abandon Me is a fiercely intelligent and remarkably intimate investigation of love and obsession, trauma and resiliency.” —The Brooklyn Rail


“The book explores shame, loss, and the meaning of family with such tenderness and vulnerability that readers can’t help but look at their own wounds through a more empathetic and, hopefully, healing lens.” —Barnes & Noble Review




                                                                   AUTHOR QUOTES


 “An intricately constructed and emotionally devastating book about the appearance and disappearance of love. Febos is a strikingly talented writer who pushes at the boundaries of her form and shows us just how amazing and expansive it can be.” —JENNY OFFILL


“Intellectual, erotic, and lyrical, this book arrives at emotional truths that startle and dazzle. Febos spares no one. And who would want to be spared such ravishing?” —JOHN D’AGATA


“Melissa Febos is a font of both emotional and intellectual honesty. A powerful, poignant meditation on not only the pain of loss but also the maddening, intoxicating, confusing and exhilarating effects of true human closeness.”  — MEGHAN DAUM


“I have never read anything like Melissa Febos's Abandon Me. It's rare to read a book as generous as it is genius. Febos weaves familial stories, feminist stories, communal stories, literary stories, and love stories, all at once revealing much of where she's been and where we, her readers, might go if we dare. I don't know that I've ever felt more thankful to read a book.” —KIESE LAYMON


“Abandon Me is a voluptuous book about the relationship between sex and surrender, desire and addiction, vulnerability and power. Febos unfolds her dark romance with erotic charge and sensuous poetry. The sentences are beautiful, but so is the story.”—SARAH HEPOLA 


“Melissa Febos is the anthropologist and critic, the learned, dispassionate observer and the passionate advocate of her body’s passage through time, space, and the woes and pleasures of contact with other humans. Abandon Me reflects an extraordinary range of both experience and understanding.” —VIJAY SESHADRI


“Abandon Me is riveting and heartbreaking and tough and passionate and beautiful and original; a tour de force. Melissa Febos weaves the personal and the universal together into a provocative, brilliant, incredibly moving examination of power and identity.” —KATE CHRISTENSEN


“Melissa Febos is a deep, broad and fearless thinker. This hard-fought, hard-won, endlessly compelling, and elegant memoir teaches us that our traumas are not isolated, but in constant conversation with each other, and promises that if we listen carefully to their steady murmuring, we might find the means and the power to heal our lives.” –PAM HOUSTON


“This book made me feel more than I was prepared to about desire and identity, as though it were an exquisite vivisection of what we politely call ‘falling in love.’ Febos’s Abandon Me is extraordinarily written and unflinchingly bold.” —NADIA BOLZ-WEBER


“No one tells it like Melissa Febos. Sensual, lyrical, raw, brave, and honest, Abandon Me is simply gorgeous.” —ANN HOOD




                                                            BOOKSELLER QUOTES


 “A memoir like none other. Febos exposes the complications of identity, addiction, obsession, jealousy, forgiveness, trust . . . and abandonment – weaving into each scenario mythological, psychological, and literal interpretations. She forces you to evaluate your own stories and their power. How you abandon yourself to discover your true worth is the substance of Febos’s powerfully honest memoir.”  —Mindy Ostrow, The River’s End Bookstore


“What is love and what makes it worth it? What is heritage and family, and how does that define us? In Melissa Febos’ beautiful and heartbreaking memoir, she seeks to answer these most profound questions.  I was completely captivated by this raw and, at times, brutally honest book.  Sometimes it isn’t easy to see the truth, and sometimes only in abandonment can we face the most honest truth." —Julie Slavinksy, Warwick's


“Febos beautifully interprets her most intimate moments in order to make peace with what we all fear the most. This book compels its reader to reflect and to reach out.” —Gwen Corkill, Brookline Booksmith


“Abandon Me bears evidence of a relentless examination of desire, loneliness, love, and reading. Melissa Febos displays a remarkable emotional honesty, one that exposes her life, but also, as in the best confessional memoirs, casts light on the reader as well.”—Stephen Sparks, Green Apple Books


“Febos' courage is astounding, and although she and I have nothing in common superficially, I found resonance in her experience—and her craving to understand it all. Moreover, I relished the view into her passionate, uninhibited, and ever-so-slightly chaotic life. I took from it a comfort in my own—and a greater compassion and respect for hers and those like it. It that sense, Abandon Me is an ideal memoir.” —Becky Dayton, Vermont Book Shop


“What is it about need and desire; the belief that some thing, some high, some person will save us or complete us, despite that very thing leading us further away from ourselves? Melissa explores these issues with pinpoint attention even while she’s losing her edges. Ultimately it is the power of her focus and the grace of her writing that enables her and the reader to pull back and see the possibility of having a life more whole.” —Sheryl Cotleur, Copperfield’s Books


“Melissa's writing is beautiful, expressive and poetic. Anyone who has experienced the highs and lows of an intense romantic (and often unhealthy) attachment will identify with this memoir. But the truly special moments are when Febos is exploring her relationship with her father(s) or ruminating on favorite books, the beauty and nuance of language, philosophy, native culture, and the meaning of home.” —Adrian Newell, Warwick’s


“Febos has the sense of structure of Rebecca Solnit and the accuracy in exploring sexuality of Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts. Abandon Me is for fans of beautiful creative nonfiction. And yes, you might want to have a drink after—it’s going to get heavy.” —Jesse Bartel, Bookhampton


“It is amazing to read a memoir that is both so lyrical and raw. Febos reveals all of her scars and tender parts, allowing us to feel the depth of her pain and desire. A truly beautiful meditation on the complexity of love and resilience.” —Luisa Smith, Book Passage

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