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Meet Rachel Murray: a twenty-something living in Cork, paying for a college degree she can’t use, filled with secrets she can’t keep, getting swept up in relationships she nearly sabotages, and dreaming of a life she isn’t sure she can have—of a future that seems both frustratingly out of reach and thrillingly without limits. It all starts in a bookstore. That’s where Rachel meets James Devlin, who—desperately seeking a roommate—soon after their first encounter asks Rachel to move into his flat. They get on like a house on fire. Dancing until the wee hours, stealing half-empty pints abandoned on bar tops, stealing kisses with men in alleys and cloakrooms, always ending the night together in James’ bed, eating chips, often watching Will & Grace until the sun comes up. But when Rachel sets her sights on her married college professor, Fred, things get complicated: James seduces him instead. And so begins a series of secrets and compromises, of lies and half-truths, that intertwine the lives of Rachel, James, Fred, and everyone they love and want to be loved by.

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CAROLINE O’DONOGHUE is the New York Times best-selling author of All Our Hidden Gifts, her YA debut fantasy, which has been published in more than twenty territories around the world. She has written for The Times and The Guardian, and is the host of an award-winning podcast, Sentimental Garbage. She was born in Ireland and lives in London. The Rachel Incident is her first adult novel to be published in the US.


“If you’ve ever had a literary internship that didn’t really pay you; if you’ve ever contemplated writing a screenplay with a friend; if you’ve ever been unsure what to do with your degree in English; if you’ve ever wondered when the rug-buying part of your life will start; if you’ve ever avoided going home or run out of things to say to your parents; if you’ve ever built your life and your personality around a friend; if you’ve ever loved the wrong person, or the right person at the wrong time… In short, if you’ve ever been young, you will love The Rachel Incident like I did.” – Gabrielle Zevin, New York Times best-selling author of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow 


“Caroline O’Donoghue, where have you been all my life? The Rachel Incident is a transportive joy, a superhighway to young friendship. Big-hearted, witty and expertly crafted — I want to live inside this book.”
—Sloane Crosley, New York Times bestselling author of I Was Told There’d Be Cake and Cult Classic

“By turns hilarious and heartfelt, breezy and bittersweet, The Rachel Incident is a full-throated, big-hearted romp through early adulthood.”
—Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times best-selling author of Orphan Train

“A college student gets caught in the middle of a friend’s romance in this delightful Irish novel…. This deliciously complex set of entanglements lays the groundwork for the novel… and bring to mind the gossipy 19th-century novels Dr. Byrne might teach in class. But its true joys lie in the tremendously witty characters and their relationships: The real love story of this novel is not between James and Dr. Byrne, or Rachel and her own paramour, but between Rachel and James, whose codependent glee in each other’s company will remind many readers of their own college friendships, especially those between women and queer men…. Sensational.”
Kirkus, starred review

“Two 20-something roommates become enmeshed with an older married couple in this smart and colorful outing from O’Donoghue....In addition to the interpersonal drama, O’Donoghue pulls no punches in her depiction of the abortion crisis in Ireland during the period, showing how women either traveled abroad or resorted to illegal and potentially dangerous methods to terminate pregnancies. Key to it all is O’Donoghue’s spot-on portrayal of Rachel’s youthful yearning....In O’Donoghue’s world, there’s plenty to fall in love with.”
Publishers Weekly


“Delightful...This is a sneakily philosophical book about growing up that offers its insights with charming, effervescent ease....O’Donoghue is a unique and exciting talent, allowing her characters to puncture their solipsistic preoccupations with humor and self awareness....I galloped through this book, enchanted by its characters and its full-hearted vision of friendship. This is a book full of love, and it is extremely easy to love reading it.”
—Chloe Schama, Vogue