The year was 1981. The US was entering a deep recession, the Soviet Union was our enemy, and John Hinckley, Jr.’s assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan shocked the nation. It was also the year author Andrea Kleine learned her close childhood friend had been violently murdered by her socialite mother, Leslie DeVeau. Both events took place in Washington, DC. Hinckley and Deveau were both sent to St. Elizabeth’s hospital, guilty by reason of insanity. It was there that they met, and later became lovers.
These two real-life, and ultimately converging events inspired Kleine’s jaw-dropping, spine-tingling novel, Calf. Made up of dual narratives and told over the course of one year, Kleine’s account follows a fictionalized John Hinckley Jr. as he stalks a young actress in the lead-up to the assassination attempt, and eleven-year-old Tammy, whose friend is murdered in her sleep.
Part Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret and part Taxi Driver, this creepy, unsettling, and absolutely addictive novel is at once a penetrating character study, a meditation on the zeitgeist of the ’80s, and an unflinching depiction of violence, both intimate and sensational.
If you came of age in the 1980’s, then this coming October it would be wise for you to pick up Calf by Andrea Kleine. After admiring the cool jacket art, you get to roll around in its dueling narrative... How can you take a moment like the assassination of a President and fictionalize it to the point where it becomes its own fever dream? That is the magic here, and it is really impressive to read.
Dread stalks every page, and the result is unsettling, scary, and often brilliant. For readers looking for a sharp, twisted narrative, this is a keeper.
In 1981, John Hinckley, Jr.’s attempt to assassinate Ronald Reagan rocked the nation. And Andrea Kleine’s gripping novel, Calf, will rock readers. This is a wonderfully unsettling book about love, loss, and unlikely connections.