A mother vanishes from her bed one night while her husband is asleep beside her, their six-year-old son in the next room.

by Molly Lynch
Catapult, February 2023
(via Sterling Lord Literistic)

Ada is from Montreal and has been living reluctantly in the American Midwest. Across the country and around the world, mothers have begun to spontaneously wander away from their homes. When Ada comes through the kitchen door two weeks later, filthy and slightly feral, the mystery of her absence intensifies. She has no memory of being gone at all.
THE FORBIDDEN TERRITORY OF A TERRIFYING WOMAN is an intimate portrait of Ada’s life in the lead-up to her disappearance—her small stresses and pleasures, her catastrophic, often absurd visions of the future as she listens to news stories about oppression and ecological collapse. She also feels drawn magnetically into a small patch of forest behind her son’s school, and she has a growing obsession with reports about a missing mother from nearby.
With Ada gone, Danny’s life loses its center. He goes through text messages and memories, recalling painful and passionate times with Ada, and her adverse relationship with the United States. But nothing, including the speculations of federal agents, provides an answer as to where Ada and the other mothers might be going.
Desperate to make sense of what happened to her after she returns, Ada imagines that she transformed into the forest itself. As the boundary between her imagination and experience blurs, the distance between her and Danny grows.
THE FORBIDDEN TERRITORY OF A TERRIFYING WOMAN is at once a play on ancient myths of metamorphosis, an allegory of motherhood at a time when the future is hard to see and easy to fear, and a love story riven by an unaccountable absence.

Molly Lynch is a Canadian writer living in Michigan. Her stories have been published in The Walrus, Joyland, The New Quarterly, Grain, and more. She has been a fiction finalist for the National Magazine Awards of Canada and the Writers’ Trust Journey Prize. She received her MFA from Johns Hopkins and now teaches creative writing at the University of Michigan. This is her first novel.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email