Traces the parallel lives of Jean and her beloved but estranged stepdaughter, Leah, who's sought a clean break from her rural childhood. In Leah's urban life with her young family, she's revealed little about Jean, how much she misses her stepmother's hard-won insights and joyful lack of inhibition. But with Jean's death, Leah must return to sort through what's been left behind. What Leah discovers is staggering: Jean has filled her ramshackle house with giant sculptures she's welded from scraps of the area's industrial history. There's also a young man now living in the house who played an unknown role in Jean's last years and in her art.
Take What You Need is Ms. Novey’s first novel set in the United States, and her most autobiographical. It is also her most moving ... Fast-paced and tightly structured ... Take What You Need is a heart-rending book, but it’s also a beautiful celebration of 'the glorious pleasure of erecting something new,' be it a work of art or a human connection.
Does not skirt gritty subjects. Concerned with characters who fall outside easily defined categories, it tackles big questions — like what qualifies as art — as well as the aching human need to be seen ... If the politics and the fairy tale scaffolding seem at times heavy-handed, Take What You Need is still a compelling piece of work.