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Love Me Back

3.21  ·  Rating details ·  3,446 ratings  ·  553 reviews
From "5 Under 35" honoree and Rona Jaffe Award-winner comes an urgent, intensely visceral debut novel about a young waitress whose downward spiral is narrated in electric prose

Marie, a young single mother, lands a job at an upscale Dallas steakhouse. She is preternaturally attuned to the appetites of her patrons, but quickly learns to hide her private struggle behind an ea
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 16th 2014 by Doubleday
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Average rating 3.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,446 ratings  ·  553 reviews

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Sep 23, 2014 rated it liked it
What to make of Love Me Back? It's a novel that asks not necessarily to be liked but to be reckoned with. It has some scorchingly good writing for a debut. While Marie, a Dallas waitress, feels less like a fully formed character and more of a vessel for all of the service industry's drugs and sex and racism and awful men to be dumped into, she's still deftly drawn. She almost tragically embraces the role she's fallen into; she's a sharp and brilliant observer of those around her but also someone ...more
AmberBug com*
Jun 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: bea2014, arc review

Dear Reader,

Boy, this was gritty. It made me blush, which is pretty hard to do. I love Palahniuk, so this should have been a cake-walk. In truth, it was but I could see SO many readers turn away from this book due to the language and sleazy situations. As dirty as this book is, the truth is... so is real life (especially in the foodservice industry). This novel should be read as a warning as to what life can give you and how you should avoid the crap (a don't end up like
Mar 03, 2015 rated it liked it
I don’t like books like this anymore, books where your protagonist should know better but doesn’t and so she goes around and around making the same shitty decisions and banging 30 coworkers or restaurant patrons in a very short period of time. Merritt Tierce is that kind of writer, the strong and capable kind whose sentences have been whittled down to all of the important, gut-kicking words. Unfortunately, other times she’s so entwined with her story that paragraphs with the minutia of restauran ...more
Jan 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I've read in years. Tierce has an incredible voice and I find her to be a truly inspiration debut fiction author. Her story "Suck It" (this inspiration for the novel) was wild and unforgiving and to see the book developed in it's entirety is phenomenal.

We never get the true motivation of Marie, the main character, as she spirals into long hours, late nights, sex and drugs and I so appreciate Tierce's stylistic choice in this. The scenes are raw and what we see are t
Emily M
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015, literary-fic, debuts
I'm still not quite sure what to make of this little book. On the one hand, I admire its unapologetic rawness and its truly terrific writing -- but I still need a little bit of plot to really sustain my interest in a book, even if it is short.

Instead of a novel, Love Me Back reads very much like a series of somewhat interconnected stories, recounting the various occupational anecdotes and sexual escapades of Marie, a young, single mother who goes from job to job in the restaurant industry. The n
Apr 22, 2014 rated it liked it
I'm going to be thinking about this book for a long time, but here are some initial thoughts.

This one is not for everyone, despite the review I read proclaiming that the reader was going to recommend it to everyone. She's gonna have a lot of disappointed friends. This is a raw book--there is nothing pretty, happy, comforting about it. It is ugly (but well-written ugly.) Also, it is not plot-driven and if that's how you like your fiction, again, not for you.

The title is misleading. I don't thin
Mar 22, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book was so awful. SO awful. It's disjointed, you never know what the heck is happening or who these people are that come and go, you don't know WHY she leaves a good husband and her baby to fuck everything that moves, we never find out why she's writing these creepy stories to her kid, and THE WORST ONE OF ALL- there are no quotation marks. oh, and the book just ends. I can't find anything redeeming about this book, except that it's a book club book and we're all messaging each other and w ...more
Jul 04, 2014 marked it as attempted  ·  review of another edition
Character portrait of a young mother who works as a waitress and has terrible relationships/mostly bad sex with a seemingly endless stream of coworkers and customers. One of those contemporary American novels that portrays its characters' emptiness very accurately - unflinchingly - but in doing so is unbearably depressing and samey to read. I feel like there's a vogue for this sort of thing at the moment - stories described as 'raw' 'visceral' 'blisteringly honest' etc, stories with an overwhelm ...more
Aug 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Raw and gritty story of a young woman who has succumbed to a life of drugs, sex, and work along with part-time motherhood. The author has incredible writing skills. A heartbreaking work of fiction.

"What's your secret? he asked. Enlighten this motherfucker.
Accept that shit is all fucked up and roll with it, I said. Don't bitch. Just adapt. Nothing is going to go right and everything is going to be hard."

Miranda Lynn
2.5 stars

Well that was bizarre!

I'm now having trouble remembering why it even ended up on my to-read list in the first place. It was a really different read, though, so I guess I kind of appreciated it for that. It was just such a strange and all-over-the-place kind of book. It was written in first-person narration with not very much punctuation (including no quotation marks, which for some readers might be hard to get used to), and it skipped around a lot in time. There were times when I had a
Paul Bryant
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Merritt Tierce is another brilliant new American voice like Smith Henderson, Junot Diaz, Wells Tower, Miranda July and Donald Ray Pollock. There's some kind of golden age going on right now. I don't think anyone has noticed!

Merritt plunges you into a very intense world of coke & alcohol & very very casual sex and single waitress motherhood; but it’s not the waitress stuff of let’s say Alice Doesn’t Live Here Any More, it’s at one of Dallas’ very top restaurants where some of the punters will ti
Julia Rose
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: heavier
Lost in early adulthood and the riot of the service industry, Marie attempts to numb herself with work, sex, and drugs. She's a young mother who’s never felt motherly; she gives everyone her body but keeps her heart closed; she’s a vegetarian working in an upscale steakhouse. Merritt Tierce spares no detail of Marie’s reckless self-destruction in a way that’s shocking without sensationalism. There is nothing flashy here, where a less adept writer could misstep into melodrama. Love Me Back searin ...more
Amanda Shannon
Mar 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Oh, how I wanted to like this book more. Tierce's writing is good...brutal and raw and good. I just couldn't get pulled in. I needed more. I was on guard about whether I was just a prudish soccer mom in my reaction to some of the more explicit scenes, but I wasn't shocked, I was bored. As another reviewer wrote, they just seemed mechanical and lacking motivation. I realize that was the point: Marie was acting mechanically and without any real motivation, but it didn't have enough to keep me hook ...more
Megan Tristao
If you like stories with young, immature, weak, morally questionable narrators who make a string of bad life decisions—running the gamut from alcohol to drugs to illegal behavior at work to relationships, both emotional and sexual—maybe you will like this book. That isn't really my thing, so I didn't care for it. But if I had been a waitress, I could see how her perspective on the service industry would be interesting and maybe even sadly comical. And though I didn't find this book had much of a ...more
Lola G.
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
I'm giving this book 2 stars because it is well written. She doesn't use quotation marks at all, and while that's an interesting way of writing, it can become confusing/tiring at times.

Be prepared for graphic sex scenes that don't let up at all for the first half of the book. Then be ready for detailed descriptions of male characters that mean nothing to the actual story. Like, long, drawn out details about how they smell, talk, walk, what their "packages" look like (ew).

I read a review that sa
Claire Tobin
May 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was good. Merritt Tierce is what I look for in a writer: her prose is unrelenting and she is willing to write what others won't. She writes vividly about Marie's character, a girl who is raw and broken and sad and angry. This book, at least to me, is about pain: how sometimes we bring it on ourselves, how we then deal with it, and how sometimes the only thing that keeps us at least somewhat sane is just going through the motions. A quick and enthralling read, Love Me Back is sure to sp ...more
May 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Read this in a day because I couldn't put it down. Marie, the main character, is broken and raw and smart... And I feel like I know her even though we have little in common. A terrific read but not for the prudish. I'm looking forward to Tierce's next work. ...more
Alexandra Eleftheriou
parts of this were great and poignant but it didn’t rlly rock my world. would have been stronger with more focus on the main character in parts vs describing people around her
Mar 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's hard to put a rating on this, but I'm thinking four if only because of how quickly it drew me in. I read 70 percent of it in excerpts at work, and on my lunch break; the second I cracked the cover I knew I was going to keep reading until I finished. It's essentially Waiter Rant plus Crank, only without Hopkins' just-say-no agenda. There's no moralizing, just what is, and what is is pretty damn rough sometimes. Not for anyone who doesn't read sex scenes.

Side note: Not living in New York or
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult-books, 2014
What a long spiral down! Tierce's portrayal of a self-destructive waitress is fascinating, but at times I had difficulty following the narrative. I guess being so far removed from my table waiting days made it hard for me to understand what she was trying to convey in many scenes. Telling the story out of chronological order did not help matters. Finally, I kept trying to find the point of the detailed descriptions of random characters in the second half of the book. I came to realize there was ...more
Sep 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
Love Me Back is a novel about a young woman with a bright future who gets pregnant just as she's graduating high school and, instead of journeying off to Yale, waits tables and travels down a rabbit hole of sex and drugs.

My sister-in-law gave me this book for Christmas; the author is another one of her classmates from the Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa. I'd love to love it, but honestly it really was not the book for me. I did not like the character and did not like reading about h
Oct 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
But when you fall asleep I go into the bathroom and do lines off the map of the steer. I read about the differences between Kobe and Wagyu and I feel replete with the beauty of your small self. Just imagining it—the everything of you—my body tingles and quivers like the air inside a guitar. I am freezing. I get into bed with you. You like staying with me because you get to sleep with me. You are so warm but I can’t stop shivering. I feel a soaring bliss—I adore you—I feel a plummeting ugly rese
Jessica Sullivan
This is a story about a waitress struggling to make a living, and as someone who has never worked in the restaurant business, I must say that this book opened my eyes to some of the hidden realities of the service industry.

Marie gets pregnant at age 17 and marries the father of her daughter, but soon into their marriage she begins sleeping with men indiscriminately, allowing them to debase and use her in ways that parallel the debasement she experiences every night at work. This is the beginning
Feb 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
Edit to add: I remembered where I really read this before. The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer! I would bet a lot of tip money this author is a fan of Twin Peaks. How else could he explain practically lifting sex scene straight from that masterpiece?
I felt like I had read this book before, probably because I used to write stuff like this when I was 13. The threesome in the moving truck? The blow job on the inversion table? Sex in the office AGAIN? Give me a break.
If you've never worked in food se
Jun 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this was not a particularly pleasurable experience for me, but I don't think that's the point. This is a very young book. The waitress protaganist, Marie, wants love in a sort of unconscious way, but she doesn't need it. Love Me Back isn't a command or a request, but a suggestion of the hypothetical idea of mutual love and support. None of that is present in this novel. It's a bit aimless and shock-valuey, but I do think the final scene is really, really good. There's some wonderful pros ...more
Book Riot Community
I love books about flawed people. I think about our collective flaws a lot, especially against the backdrop of our culture that’s so hungry to act as judge, jury, and executioner in the comments sections of the Internet. In Love Me Back, Marie is a self-destructive teen mother who loses custody of her infant daughter to the only man who ever loved her. Working odd jobs in restaurants around Houston, she keeps right on that path of sex, drugs, and self-destruction to the bitter end — girl just ca ...more
Karla Collins
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
I read this book quickly, in part to try to figure it out and in part to get it over with. The author's writing style is not what I am used to, and she often skips around in time as well as voice. In one chapter she is speaking to her daughter, in another she is just experiencing her life - filled with drugs, sex, and many, many men.
I am unsure of the audience. While Marie is a young adult (last year of high school and a few years beyond...I think), I would certainly not categorize this as a yo
Charles Dee Mitchell
Oct 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary-lit
The praise this first novel reaps comes heavily packed with words like “unflinching,” “sad, dirty, and beautifully written,” “raw and surgically precise.” The words are accurate and Tierce deserves the praise. But for residents of Dallas, Texas – Tierce’s setting – there is a satirical aspect of the novel that enlivens it in ways possibly not so significant to readers across the country. Tierce’s depiction of the flashiest subset of Dallas high society makes the goings-on among the characters on ...more
Courtney Maum
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing

As a former waitress (and someone who very well might end up in the service industry again) this is an incredible homage to a terrifying, addictive industry written from the POV of a terrifying, addicted person.

More to come soon but I'm so blown away by this—I met Merritt quickly when I was at the Texas Book Festival and I'm super duper intimidated by her now.
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Solid, assured prose elevates this novel to a level above its peers. Towards the end, right as I was prepared to say it becomes a little monotonous in its home stretch, Tierce deftly reveals a deeper interior to the protagonist that I found quite rewarding.
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2015 Reading Chal...: Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce 1 19 Jun 11, 2015 04:41PM  

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Merritt Tierce was born and raised in Texas. She worked in various secretarial and retail positions until 2009, when she moved to Iowa City to attend the Iowa Writers’ Workshop as the Meta Rosenberg Fellow.

After graduating in 2011 with her MFA from Iowa, she received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, and she is a 2013 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Author.

Merritt is currently the Execu

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