Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
If I had to hold up one book as the archetypical MFA-style book, it’d be this one. It doesn’t always work. Here it does. It makes me say cliche things like “the characters felt so real” and “I was emotionally invested” and mean it honestly, not ironically, and can’t say it more or more intensely or more truthfully or more emphatically. This book did it for me.