The Adult: A Novel (Hardcover)
An addictively gripping coming-of-age story about an all-consuming, insidious love affair between a college freshman and a mysterious older woman, from an unforgettable new voice in fiction
Eighteen-year-old Natalie has just arrived at her first year of university in Toronto, leaving her remote, forested hometown for the big, impersonal city. Everyone she encounters seems to know exactly who they are. She reads advice listicles and watches videos online and thinks about how to fit in, how to really become someone, whoever that might be.
And then she meets Nora, an older woman who takes an unexpected interest in her, and is drawn unstoppably into Nora’s orbit. She begins spending more and more of her time at Nora’s perfect, tidy home in her beautiful, quiet world. Natalie lies to her floormates about her absence, inventing a fake off-campus boyfriend, and carefully protects this sacred, adult relationship. This only deepens her obsession, even as she comes to suspect Nora is hiding something. As the secrets multiply and the intensity of the romance threatens to overwhelm her, Natalie realizes that the new, adult identity she had imagined for herself is far from the one she’s actually coming to know.
With atmospheric, electric prose that captures the anxiety and emotional intensity of young adulthood like never before, The Adult is about sex, yearning, poetry, and learning to free oneself from the expectations of others. Bronwyn Fischer is an immensely talented new writer to watch.
About the Author
Bronwyn Fischer is a graduate of the University of Guelph’s MFA program in creative writing. She also holds a BA from the University of Toronto. She was born in Bahrain and now lives in Toronto with her wife, Emma.
Named a Most Anticipated Book of Spring 2023 by Cosmopolitan, Buzzfeed, Autostraddle, Lambda Literary, Bay Area Reporter, The Blade, Queer Forty, & Bookshop.org
“Through Natalie’s subtle but vivid narration, Fischer powerfully evokes the all-consuming force of a relationship confined to a private universe…While this brimming tension almost makes The Adult an understated thriller, the novel’s quieter intrigue exists in the articulation—or disarticulation—of the awakening of queer desire.”—Daisy Lafarge, The New York Times Book Review
“The Adult smolders with barely contained longing. Natalie’s voice—restrained, lyric, and precise—transported me back to the exquisite desperation of first love. Fischer’s debut novel is like a visit from your younger self—even as you worry about Natalie, you won’t be able to look away.”—Alyssa Songsiridej, author of Little Rabbit, shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
“All-consuming. The Adult has it all: betrayal, the intensity of inexperienced queer infatuation, and a perceptive and comic voice. A bright and poignant coming-of-age story that will leave you thinking, 'I hope Bronwyn Fischer writes more!’”—Emily Austin, author of Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead
“A powerful, queer coming-of-age story about a young woman in the throes of first love… This gripping novel has the distinct pang of nostalgia mixed with the discomfort of growing up — a bittersweet but delicious experience.”—Buzzfeed
“[A] compelling and dramatic debut . . . It is a rare occurrence when a first-time novelist can put readers right square in the middle of someone’s very physiology. THE ADULT is a fascinating character study of someone who dips their toe into a world they’re not ready to fully comprehend. It’s a great queer love story that will find a rapt audience, particularly during Pride Month, and will raise anticipation for Fischer’s next novel.”—Book Reporter
“With poetic prose and a twisty plot, The Adult is a portrait of teenage angst and yearning, as well as an exploration of all the choices one makes and the selves one meets while becoming, and being, an adult.”—The Millions
"A dreamy debut” —Electric Literature's Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Books for Summer 2023
“It’s a lesbian tale as old as time, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done in a fresh, exciting way: a college student has a life-changing affair with an older woman.”—Autostraddle
"A sharp, curious examination of identity, power, and the various unexpected pathways that lead us to discovering who we are."——The Globe and Mail's 100 Best Books of 2023
“[An] engrossing debut… Fischer paints Natalie with care, exploring the depths of her spinning, developing mind. Full of heart, this perfectly captures the lonely messiness of youth."—Publishers Weekly
“Fischer perfectly captures that enraptured feeling of first love, especially with someone older and more experienced. There are parts of this book that are also deeply melancholy; bits and pieces that made me exhale and set the book aside for a minute or two. A little bit heart-wrenching, this one will be perfect for Sally Rooney fans and sad gay people alike.”—Southern Book Review
“Fischer captures teenage uncertainty brilliantly… This insightful novel is alive with vibrant prose, emotional acuity, and complex female characters. A meditation on what it means to step into your authentic self—with all the subsequent confusion and pain laid bare.”—Kirkus Reviews
"A haunting tale of love, heartbreak, and deceit. In precise, lyrical prose, Bronwyn Fischer captures Natalie’s growing pains in all their hilarity, devastation, and piercing tenderness. This is an electric debut."—Antonia Angress, author of Sirens & Muses
“A masterful debut… confident, perceptive… intoxicating—I’m reminded of the emotional command of Brandon Taylor[‘s] debut novel Real Life… Fischer is a new talent to watch—a young fiction writer with a poet’s ears and eyes, whose understanding of queer heads and hearts is already compelling and indispensable."—Xtra
“A compelling and quietly disturbing coming-of-age novel… Fischer expertly captures the intensity of a first relationship and the constant self-questioning of an insecure young woman.”—Booklist
“A page-turning novel that explores the emotionally revelatory nature of sexual awakenings. This is a surprising engrossing story of innocence, obsession and desire.”—Bay Area Book Reporter
“Bronwyn Fischer’s debut novel will reel you in hook, line and sinker with its deft exploration of identity, love, insecurity, desire and deceit. [A] captivating page-turner.”—The Pink News
“A beautifully written novel about what it means to find yourself as a young person.”—PrideSource
“Bronwyn Fischer’s The Adult is a gorgeous daydream of a novel. In her immersive and lyrical prose, Fischer unravels a stunning portrait of a young woman’s queer sexual awakening. A tender and sometimes heartbreaking coming-of-age story, The Adult nevertheless shows us how profoundly we can grow when we move past shame and allow ourselves to be vulnerable to love and desire. I adore this book!”—Jennifer Savran Kelly, author of Endpapers
“Brilliant, a true original.”—Souvankham Thammavongsa, author of National Book Critics Circle Award finalist How to Pronounce Knife
“This is the lesbian-awakening coming-of-age campus novel I wish existed when I was a teenager! With sparse, lyrical prose, Fischer infuses mundane college scenes with a uniquely resonant light.”—Skylar Miklus from Still North Books & Bar in Electric Literature
“This novel is that rare thing that combines profound feeling with the cool detachment and sharp insight of deep intelligence. A coming of age story, a school story, a coming out story, a morally dubious love story and a comic tragedy of modern manners, distractions and disastrous miscalculations, The Adult looks at moving to the city, finding love, finding sex, thinking you are older than you are, watching idiosyncratic videos on YouTube while having your heart broken, and getting out of your depth.”—Kate Cayley, playwright, poet, and author of How You Were Born, winner of the 2015 Trillium Book Award
“[Reading The Adult], I enter a beautiful and beguiling world, in which Fischer’s sentences do what the best writing does: alter my way of seeing. The novel offers a deeply embodied sense of being eighteen in a new place, even as the narrator longs simultaneously to step into a new self. The unexpected perils and complexities of her journey are rendered with utmost specificity, offered to the reader with verve, heartbreak and comedy. This is the debut of an utterly original new voice."—Catherine Bush, author of Blaze Island
“I have found a new favorite niche of literary fiction this year, and that is stories that feature queer love affairs. Featuring books such as The Adult... the characters’ exploration of their personhood is heightened through the suspense of the affair.”—Off the Shelf
“This is the lesbian-awakening coming-of-age campus novel I wish existed when I was a teenager! With sparse, lyrical prose, Fischer infuses mundane college scenes with a uniquely resonant light.”—Skylar Miklus, Still North Books & Bar in Hanover, New Hampshire, Electric Literature
“[A] sharp, curious exploration of identity, power and the various unexpected pathways that lead us to discovering who we are."—The Globe and Mail (Canada), "The Globe 100: The best books of 2023"