“An intoxicating blend of music, love, and family from one of the essential writers of the internet generation” (Stephanie Danler).
Have you ever wondered what your mother was like before she became your mother, and what she gave up in order to have you?
It’s the early days of the new millennium, and Laura has arrived in New York City’s East Village in the hopes of recording her first album. A songwriter with a one-of-a-kind talent, she’s just beginning to book gigs with her beautiful best friend when she falls hard for a troubled but magnetic musician whose star is on the rise. Their time together is stormy and short-lived—but will reverberate for the rest of Laura’s life.
Fifteen years later, Laura’s teenage daughter, Marie, is asking questions about her father, questions that Laura does not want to answer. Laura has built a stable life in Brooklyn that bears little resemblance to the one she envisioned when she left Ohio all those years ago, and she’s taken pains to close the door on what was and what might have been. But neither her best friend, now a famous musician who relies on Laura’s songwriting skills, nor her depressed and searching daughter will let her give up on her dreams.
“A zippy and profound story of love, loss, heredity, and parenthood (Emma Straub), Perfect Tunes explores the fault lines in our most important relationships, and asks whether dreams deferred can ever be reclaimed. It is a delightful and poignant tale of music and motherhood, ambition and compromise—of life, in all its dissonance and harmony.
About the Author
Emily Gould is the author of the novels Perfect Tunes, Friendship, and the essay collection And the Heart Says Whatever. With Ruth Curry, she runs Emily Books, which publishes books by women as an imprint of Coffee House Press. She has written for The New York Times, New York, The New Yorker, Bookforum, and many other publications. She lives in New York City with her family.
“[A] poignant story about the hard and intangibly enriching work of motherhood. . . . Anyone familiar with Gould’s work will be unsurprised by her keen eye. . . . The pleasure of this book is in Gould’s astute details about everything from a hangover (which made Laura’s head feel like a “black banana”) to relationships. . . . Her writing is observant and unfussy, and she has a knack for addressing serious subjects, such as the hardships of parenting and the darkness of depression, while keeping things light.”
—Emily Bobrow, The Washington Post
“What has remained consistent throughout Gould’s career is her ability to understand, amplify, and explore the essence of a moment, in turn offering her readers the opportunity to better understand the exigencies of life, those weird after-effects that ripple out from a major catastrophe. Perfect Tunes has many of those big before-and-after moments and many of those rippling after-effects; it shows the ways in which we are all, always, having to reimagine the story of our lives. . . . Through it all, Gould’s insights into what makes up the sometimes barely perceptible beats of our lives are sensitive and spot-on.”
—Kristin Iversen, Refinery29
“Perfect Tunes is a cautionary tale about a lesser-discussed form of intergenerational trauma. . . . Gould, in the end, is not suggesting that oft-told myth that motherhood makes artistic life impossible; she is showing, through Laura and Marie’s relationship, how unexpressed creativity can become as painful to carry as unpumped breast milk.”
—Lindsay Zoladz, Bookforum
“Perfect Tunes is an intoxicating blend of music, love, and family from one of the essential writers of the internet generation. From the obsessive spark of first love to the complexities of mother-daughter relationships, Emily Gould captures life’s ups, downs, and in-betweens with wisdom and wry humor, giving us one of the great New York coming-of-age stories.”
“Perfect Tunes is mind-blowing. I have yet to read any text longer than like one page by Emily Gould in which she doesn’t articulate something I often thought, or felt, but never previously articulated or acknowledged. She is brilliant and fearless. Her take on mothers and daughters, and daughters’ boyfriends, and daughters’ boyfriends’ mothers, and daughters’ daughters boyfriends, is full of unspeakable insights, or at least I thought they were unspeakable, but there they are. Now I want everyone I know to read this book and talk about it with me.”
“Perfect Tunes is a zippy and profound story of love, loss, heredity, and parenthood. I gulped it down, as will all mothers, New Yorkers, music fans, and lovers of quick-moving novels that are both funny and deep. I loved every page.”
“Brimming with gemlike insight and humor, Perfect Tunes is a moving investigation of love, loss, and parenthood.”
“This exploration of music, motherhood, identity, and the dividing line between love and lust feels like a time capsule of post-9/11 New York, and its time jump to present-day Brooklyn will feel familiar to many readers struggling to keep families intact under less-than-ideal circumstances.”
“Sharply observant . . . Gould’s portrait of a would-be artist as a young woman offers fresh, poignant insights into the challenges faced by the city’s transplanted dreamers.”
“Perfect Tunes, which tells the story of a friendship, a tumultuous love affair, and motherhood, is just the right balance of acerbic and warm.”
“Emily Gould’s Perfect Tunes is a heartfelt exploration of the mother-daughter relationship and what it means to let go of the life you once wanted for yourself.”
“Engaging and insightful . . . A forthright exploration of friendship, motherhood and the contradictory joys and perils of the creative life.”
“Gould poignantly and carefully explores what happens when plans go awry, expectations and priorities shift, and people adapt in their pursuit of love, meaning, and fulfillment.”
“Gould’s strength lies in her powers of observation, her ability to wrap words around a specific time and a place in the lives of these particular women. . . . Laura’s and Marie’s voices each stand out for their honesty and poignancy.”