Poor Deer: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Poor Deer: A Novel By Claire Oshetsky Cover Image

Poor Deer: A Novel (Hardcover)

$26.99


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(FICTION: NOVELS)

Staff Reviews


"For such a small, unassuming book, Poor Deer is brimming with twists and turns. Margaret sits down to confess what really happened on the fateful day of her friend’s death when she was just 4 years old. No matter the truth, tragedy is seen through the eyes of a child and informs the rest of her life. Even before the incident, she is a strange child who has been steeped in a mix of catholicism and fairy tales, contributing to a dizzying sense of reality where what is real and what is perceived are muddled. This short but unsettling tale will make you feel catholic guilt even if you’ve never been to church."--Reviewed by Vanessa

A wondrous, tender novel about a young girl grappling with her role in a tragic loss—and attempting to reshape the narrative of her life—from PEN/Faulkner Award nominee Claire Oshetsky

Margaret Murphy is a weaver of fantastic tales, growing up in a world where the truth is too much for one little girl to endure. Her first memory is of the day her friend Agnes died.

No one blames Margaret. Not in so many words. Her mother insists to everyone who will listen that her daughter never even left the house that day. Left alone to make sense of tragedy, Margaret wills herself to forget these unbearable memories, replacing them with imagined stories full of faith and magic—that always end happily.

Enter Poor Deer: a strange and formidable creature who winds her way uninvited into Margaret’s made-up tales. Poor Deer will not rest until Margaret faces the truth about her past and atones for her role in Agnes’s death.

Heartrending, hopeful, and boldly imagined, Poor Deer explores the journey toward understanding the children we once were and the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of life’s most difficult moments.


Claire Oshetsky is the author of Chouette, which was a PEN Faulkner Nominee, the winner of the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, and a finalist for the Northern California Book Award and the Barbellion Prize. They live in Santa Cruz with their family.

Product Details ISBN: 9780063327665
ISBN-10: 006332766X
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: January 9th, 2024
Pages: 240
Language: English

"Readers will be captivated by Margaret’s beautifully weird search for atonement." — Publishers Weekly

“Beautiful, terrifying. . . . Grief is a well-trod territory in fiction, but in Oshetsky’s hands, this familiar topic becomes fresh and strange. . . . With Poor Deer, Oshetsky proves themself the bard of unruly psyches.”
New York Times Book Review