“gender is one of the biggest lies of our civilization”―
Girl, Woman, Other has got to be the most spectacular book of the past few years and the first 5-star read of 2021. Even though I had started reading this in late November, I just couldn’t help myself from savoring it via a slow read. A book every woman must surely read once in her lifetime to explore and understand her feminist side, gender identity, and how to be empathetic towards other women.
Title: Girl, Woman, Other
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (5/5 stars)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Author: Bernardine Evaristo
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The book is divided into four parts consisting of three chapters each. Every chapter in turn details the life of one Black girl, woman, or other. Each woman in the book details at length her sexuality and how she develops a comfortable relationship with it. The sexual growth of these women most of whom are either lesbians, or gender straight till they discovered they have a liking for other women, is revealed in the most fantastic way.
A teenaged girl overwhelmed by sexual molestation and racial discrimination in school, not able to study, coming from a broken family, drug abuse and how she overcame it all to find meaningful values in her own life. But before it all, she learns to be comfortable in her own skin which is now not black but coffee, mocha or even copper due to marriages between the White folks and the Black ones. So in essence it is no longer Black but a shade of Brown.
“very small children don’t care about skin colour, Rachel, until they’re brainwashed by their parents”
We learn about slavery system and so many African immigrants from different parts of Africa, each wanting to be true to their heritage and pass on their culture to the next generation through an affinity for African cuisine, local flavors and other cultural titbits which make this book really enjoyable to read.
Each woman talks of her daily struggles whether she is with a partner, without a partner, giving birth to children, watching them grow up and leave the nest and then finding their lives all over again. The book details how these women try to build careers from an early age, trying to fulfill their dreams and at the same time bring up their children, look after the house and husband.
Some of these young women become successful and decide to turn their back on their culture so as to escape the racism and discrimination it brings into their life. Others grow up side by side with the cultural distortions that they face daily and yet still want to and pass on their cultural heritage to their children.
“being trans wasn’t about playacting an identity on a whim, it’s about becoming your true self in spite of society’s pressures to be otherwise, most people on the trans spectrum felt different from childhood,”
The sexual flavor in the entire story is what is so liberating about about this anthology of modern black women and each woman is a collection of events and stories about their struggles. And each woman is unique in that case whether it was struggling with their hair, with their body, with their mind, with not being able to find a partner, or simply existing in a marriage because that is the thing to do.
In total 12 British women, ranging from 19 to 93 years of age are profiled in this book. There are young teenage girls, grown women, menopausal women and we have women who have seen four generations of their family. Each woman represents strength and solidarity with other women through shared angst.
The final chapter brings almost all of them together and we realize that the author had started a point in the story which completes an unexpected full circle. Some earlier stories also find a conclusion in the last few pages as one of the characters discovers she was adopted, thus solving the mystery of her being “different’ from her otherwise black parents.
What I liked:
What I found totally astonishing about this book is its setting in rich cream proper London and yet talking about dark issues like lesbianism, transgender, sexual molestation, rape, social injustice, and gas lighting and the shame and guilt that descends on the victims.
It address so many topics that are normally seen in the lives of any woman but things with the black flavor add an extra dimension to the tale and made for a very liberating read. The wit and humor is a great bonus and the difference in POV of each generation to the same issue is very refreshing to read about too.
What I didn’t like:
This book flows in narration as there is no punctuation and the sentences begin at will. So initially reading the book I was a bit non-plussed since no punctuation and no definite marking of a beginning of a sentence or a para. But soon I got so involved in the reading that I forgot about this flaw this.
It feels raw and real and not at all like a fictional read. Its been written with great clarity of thoughts and personal experience and is one of my most recommended reads for today’s women.
If you like my book reviewing then perhaps you would like to check out another one here – The Flatshare by Beth O’ Leary
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