Funny how the comet looks both still and in motion- held in its orbit but fighting to break away. Brian thinks it’s beautiful, freeflying. I only see it’s falling apart. I am Brian’s tail, clinging for dear life, feeling bits of myself break away and turn into mist. He’s on the move and I can’t hang on for much longer.
Short and intimate, this collection is women at their worst and best. In Eskimo Pie, Margaret is a teacher reluctant to be the awkward students champion. It’s my favorite in this collection, because I felt so wounded by her honesty and refreshed. We hate mirrors, don’t we? Reflecting all those things about ourselves we shed long ago or, the horror, seeing everything we don’t want to be, but are. Jessica, that poor, clueless outcast is set to have a far worse day, poking Margaret’s meanness. When she gets her period, the hardness is dislodged and suddenly the commonality is suffering, something all women share, our bodies betray us all.
Eunuchs is depressing and hopeful, Pak Jeong (Korean student) isn’t meant to succeed and it seems the system in place has it in for him. In trying to teach those students lacking the English language skills necessary to be ‘up to snuff’ for Dreighton Hall, she resents the successful elite and sees longs to save, Pak. Natalie wants to fight for him, as much as she wishes he could just try to blend in his defiance is gathering momentum and when he blows, Natalie has admiration for his courage.
Skin Art is about more than someone who used to ‘cut’, the way Madeline is treated by her husband, that dismissive annoyance and impatience he expresses towards her, the sense she has to explain herself speaks volumes. Why is it she is pushing herself so much, as if trying to keep up with his needs, when so often women are meant to push full steam ahead when they really just need a lie down, a moment to recharge? I adore the moment she gets Mendhi, has the Alok added to the design and that her perceptive husband, quick to point out her faults, is left with nothing but confusion.
In Skating The Vertical, Nate struggles with his father’s descent into depression after losing his job and feels shame in the cruelty he and his friends do to a homeless man. There is, for boys, a different sort of struggle, an expectation of ‘toughness’ and violence, boys can’t be weak, while girls fight within their bodies, boys have to act ‘out’.
Rocky Road touched me, it reminded me of something my own mother has said several times when other female family members have had cancer. A chummy sort of ‘well it takes cancer to lose weight’, that branded my brain. Think about that, I may be sick but at least I am not fat. That’s haunted me, in this story mother Leigh has just finished a round of chemo and her friend Vena, is a self-appointed healer, setting up the best possible diet for her. Daughter Candace feels shut out, their bond has been junk food, and their curvaceous “Morgan hips”. This clean life is a cold place. It’s funny how stories can mean different things to each reader.
There are sixteen stories within, dealing with unwanted pregnancy, infertility ,desperate love, self-harm, healing, body image, and of course forbidden relationships. All the terrible things we women do to ourselves, the hidden pain, the lonely choices… it takes crocodile skin!