Reeling from the loss of her grandmother, and unable to provide her ailing mother with the financial and medical support she needs, Lena drops out of college and volunteers to take part in a mysterious research study. The benefits are unreal: a handsome payout; free room and board; and — most crucially — full coverage of her mother’s medical expenses. But the study’s strict nondisclosure agreement and invasive screening process are the first of many red flags. A work of eerie, absorbing fiction with disturbing parallels in the real world, Lakewood is a remarkable debut. Recommended By Tove H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A startling debut about class and race, Lakewood
evokes a terrifying world of medical experimentation — part The Handmaid’s Tale
, part The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
When Lena Johnson’s beloved grandmother dies, and the full extent of the family debt is revealed, the black millennial drops out of college to support her family and takes a job in the mysterious and remote town of Lakewood, Michigan.
On paper, her new job is too good to be true. High paying. No out of pocket medical expenses. A free place to live. All Lena has to do is participate in a secret program — and lie to her friends and family about the research being done in Lakewood. An eye drop that makes brown eyes blue, a medication that could be a cure for dementia, golden pills promised to make all bad thoughts go away.
The discoveries made in Lakewood, Lena is told, will change the world — but the consequences for the subjects involved could be devastating. As the truths of the program reveal themselves, Lena learns how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the sake of her family.
Provocative and thrilling, Lakewood is a breathtaking novel that takes an unflinching look at the moral dilemmas many working-class families face, and the horror that has been forced on black bodies in the name of science.
"Like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives, Lakewood compels even as it unsettles. Megan Giddings writes with a scalpel and I’d follow her characters anywhere." Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble
"Both profoundly poetic and utterly compelling, Lakewood presents an intimate portrait of the physical and psychological trauma caused by the use of black people as test subjects for medical experiments in the United States and powerfully connects it to the broader legacy of environmental racism." Ladee Hubbard, author of The Talented Ribkins
"An impressive debut. Megan Giddings has produced a novel of great emotional intensity. Her brilliant storytelling skills are on full display in this story which unfolds with subtle prose that deftly explores powerful themes of family, loss, responsibility, and friendship. Lena Johnson is a masterfully rendered protagonist, reminiscent of the characters of Toni Morrison, Gayl Jones and Jesmyn Ward, while appearing utterly new and fresh." Jeffrey Colvin, author of Africaville
"Lakewood is a thought-provoking debut and Megan Giddings is a young writer to watch." Kirkus Reviews
"Giddings writes with eloquence, walking readers through the complicated world of Lakewood. They'll be eager to turn each page and read what happens next." Booklist
"Megan Giddings' debut novel Lakewood is reminiscent of Jordan Peele's terrifying film Get Out." Essence
“...This is the rare debut that feels utterly of the now, unearthing our shared past even as it charges the reader to imagine and enact a better future, fast as they can.” Matt Bell, author of Scrapper
“Chilling...Giddings is a writer with a vivid imagination and a fresh eye both of the body and of society. This eerie debut provides a deep character study spiked with a dose of horror.” Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Megan Giddings is a features editor at The Rumpus, a channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books, and a contributing editor at Boulevard. She is a recipient of a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund grant for feminist fiction. Her short stories have been published in Black Warrior Review, Gulf Coast, and Iowa Review. Megan holds degrees from University of Michigan and Indiana University. She lives in Michigan.