Book excerpt: "Come and Get It" by Kiley Reid


G.P. Putnam’s Sons

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Kiley Reid, author of the 2019 bestseller “Such a Fun Age,” is back with a smart, wry novel about young women at the University of Arkansas. “Come and Get It” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) features Millie, a hardworking African American student serving as a resident advisor in her dorm. 

When a visiting professor asks her to help gather data on students’ values and attitudes, that harmless-seeming agreement soon gets tangled up in all kinds of romantic and ethical complications that wreak havoc in the dorm … and beyond.

Read an excerpt below.

“Come and Get It” by Kiley Reid

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“So I’m sure Millie told you the basics, but I’m Agatha Paul. I’m a visiting professor this year and I’m teaching nonfiction as well as culture and media studies in the graduate nonfiction program. I’m also doing some research on weddings and I’m really excited to ask you a bunch of questions.”

Jenna placed an apple slice in her mouth. “Is this like, for your own wedding?”

Agatha looked up and saw that her question was in earnest. “No no. My first book centered around funerals and grief. The second was about birthday celebrations. And this one will be about weddings. All of them focus on money and culture and traditions. And you’re all big wedding fans, yes?”

Jenna nodded. “That’s like, all we do.”

“What’s that?”

“We just like . . .” Casey laughed a bit. “We watch a lot of the highlight videos. Or we send each other things we find on Instagram or whatever.”

“Okay, great. But let’s back up. I want to make sure we start properly.”

Agatha took out her phone, switched the setting to airplane mode, and then began to record. Next, she retrieved her small, black tape recorder, pressed the recording buttons, and placed the device between the cutting board and the young women. “As I said in the email, your names and your likenesses won’t appear anywhere in the book. So speak freely and honestly. There are no right answers.”

Casey folded her arms on the table and said, “Why did Ah just get nervous?”

“I know, me too,” Tyler said.

“There’s no need to be nervous, I promise.”

“Actually?” Jenna stood up. “Can I grab my sweatshirt? My room is like . . . right there.”

“Oh, of course.”

Jenna left and silence took the room. This moment was familiar: the sudden dread that it would be a struggle to pass the next forty-five minutes, let alone with something inspiring. But after hundreds of interviews in the last ten years, Agatha’s brief apprehension was eclipsed with the firsthand knowledge that, for the most part, people liked talking about themselves.

Casey pointed at a La Croix. “Do you mind if Ah take one?”

Agatha said, “No, please. Help yourself.”

Casey opened the can with both hands. “May Ah ask what type of stone that is?”

Agatha looked down at her ring. “Oh, sure. It’s called a sunstone.” She thought twice about it, then slipped the ring off her finger. She reached and handed it to Casey.

Casey held the ring up to her line of sight. “A sunstone,” she said. “That’s so neat.”

Tyler leaned into Casey. “I love that. It kind of matches your hair.”

“Huh,” Agatha said. “You’re right. I guess it does.”

Casey carefully handed the ring back. “It’s real pretty,” she said.

Agatha said, “Thank you,” and slipped it back onto her hand. When she looked back up, she found that Tyler’s brown eyes had centered on Agatha’s neck and chest.

“So this is a weird thing to say?” Tyler said. “But you dress how I want to dress when I’m older.”

Agatha wished she could fight the impulse, but her face pouted at Tyler’s words. She looked down at her outfit with a “This old thing?” expression. Light blue chino pants. A white boatneck top. Gold bar necklace. A chambray vest that went past her knees.

Agatha leaned forward and pulled up on the waistband of her pants. “That’s very nice, Tyler. Thank you.”

“Mm-hmm,” Casey agreed. “Ah see what you mean. Mah goal is to have really solid pieces that all kind of go together.”

“Exactly, same,” Tyler said. “Okay, also? I have a random question. Do you get to write about whatever you want?”

“For the most part.”

“That’s so neat. So you’re like, a journalist?”

“I am.”

“Ohh,” Casey said. “Ah didn’t realize. That’s so neat.”

Jenna came back into the room, but this time with a large adornment. A gray knitted throw blanket was wrapped around her shoulders.

Tyler snorted. “Jenna, what are you doing?”

“I couldn’t find my sweatshirt,” Jenna said. Holding the blanket in place, she sat back down.

As Casey laughed and said, “Ohmahlord,” Tyler held up a questioning hand. “Jenna’s like, ‘What? I couldn’t find my sweatshirt.'”

“Okay.” Agatha cut in. “Ladies, are you ready?” But as it seemed, Jenna’s blanket scarf was still incredibly funny.

“That actually looks kind of good,” Casey said.

“I’m gonna be so mad if I lost my sweatshirt, though.”

Tyler patted down a piece of the blanket so she could see Jenna’s face. “Awwww, look at her. Little Mexican bebe,” she said.

“I know,” Jenna said. “I’m just a cute little refugee over here.” She adjusted the blanket and crossed her legs. “Sorry,” she said to Agatha. “Okay, I’m ready now.”

Agatha blinked and closed her mouth. She experienced a warm rush of blood to the face. The residents’ eyes sat ready and patient; they were waiting for her to begin.

From “Come and Get It” by Kiley Reid. Copyright © 2024 by Kiley Reid. Reprinted by permission of G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

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