Poor Deer: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Margaret Murphy must come to terms with the unresolved guilt and grief that she feels for having a part in her friend Agnes’s death. Trying to get to the truth of what happened, we accompany Margaret through her childlike tales of what she says occurred; we follow her as a four-year-old and as she gets older, and listen to her stories as she tries to navigate her grief. But there’s one character who guides her to the truth and not the happy endings she makes up to protect herself. Poor Deer is a deer-like creature that seems to be manifested from Margaret’s guilt and will stop at nothing to make sure Margaret holds herself accountable to being honest. Poor Deer is a novel that deals with death and how we handle the trauma that accompanies it.


— From Savanah's recs


A wondrous, tender novel about a young girl grappling with her role in a tragic loss—and attempting to reshape the narrative of her life—from PEN/Faulkner Award nominee Claire Oshetsky

Margaret Murphy is a weaver of fantastic tales, growing up in a world where the truth is too much for one little girl to endure. Her first memory is of the day her friend Agnes died.

No one blames Margaret. Not in so many words. Her mother insists to everyone who will listen that her daughter never even left the house that day. Left alone to make sense of tragedy, Margaret wills herself to forget these unbearable memories, replacing them with imagined stories full of faith and magic—that always end happily.

Enter Poor Deer: a strange and formidable creature who winds her way uninvited into Margaret’s made-up tales. Poor Deer will not rest until Margaret faces the truth about her past and atones for her role in Agnes’s death.

Heartrending, hopeful, and boldly imagined, Poor Deer explores the journey toward understanding the children we once were and the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of life’s most difficult moments.

About the Author

Claire Oshetsky is the author of Chouette, which was a PEN Faulkner Nominee, the winner of the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, and a finalist for the Northern California Book Award and the Barbellion Prize. They live in Santa Cruz with their family.

Praise For…

"Readers will be captivated by Margaret’s beautifully weird search for atonement." — Publishers Weekly

“Beautiful, terrifying. . . . Grief is a well-trod territory in fiction, but in Oshetsky’s hands, this familiar topic becomes fresh and strange. . . . With Poor Deer, Oshetsky proves themself the bard of unruly psyches.”
New York Times Book Review

Product Details
ISBN: 9780063327665
ISBN-10: 006332766X
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: January 9th, 2024
Pages: 240
Language: English