Love is a Rebellious Bird: A Novel by Elayne Klasson

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“Judith, sometimes it’s hard to be objective when it’s someone we love.”

With the years gone faster than the blink of Judith’s eye, she finds herself thinking about the same person she has since childhood, the one person whom has occupied the biggest room in her heart, Eliot Pine. The most pressing question of all, beyond why and how we love the people we do, is can you love someone who doesn’t love you with the same devotion and passion you feel for them? Is true love only measured in equal parts? Worse, can you stop yourself from loving a person who can never return your own? Judith is over seventy, and “trying to make sense of what I did with my life”, knowing her obsessive love was “consuming, painful, and, ultimately, unsuitable.” Here she presents her story of unwavering love for Eliot through her marriages, births of her children and her career.

Judith first meets Eliot Pine, a beautiful boy, when she is ten years old and transfers to Pratt Elementary School in Chicago her fifth grade year. The reader learns, just like Judith, through a fight he is in that his mother is in the mental hospital, again. His pain and sorrow becomes Judith’s own. Immediately her heart belongs to Eliot. First it’s love from a distance, each with their own little boyfriend and girlfriends until they begin to compete academically. Impressed by her intelligence, the two become fast friends, earning her even a special nickname from Eliot that sticks for life. She inserts herself in his passionate causes to be closer to him, getting to know even his mother, for a time. But she always seems to be asking him for more than he can give, their relationship one of imbalance. A terrible tragedy takes place, and Judith is only too eager to be Eliot’s solace. Through the years and difficulties of life, Eliot and Judith turn to each other as something far more undefinable than friends.

As growing up does, experiences change Eliot and Judith just can’t seem to keep up. As he changes, Judith longs for him in the Ann Arbor Gloom, focusing on her education, waiting for that ‘some day’ he always promises when she can finally, fully give herself to him, body and soul. Judith immerses herself in psychology and social work. The two meet up again and again through life, keeping in touch through letters before emails take over, their life circles different as Eliot’s in more affluent, and yet there are times they are unavailable to each other as he graduates Harvard Law and she travels the world with someone else.

Judith and Eliot’s life paths split in different directions, he with a career in law, she with a career in social work and later raising children as a single mother after a tragic turn. Eliot gives her mixed signals even after he is married to someone else, and all she can ever feel is “if only” about everything involving Eliot. Is Eliot moved more by their shared history and her utter devotion and attention to him? In love with the intensity of her love for him? She promises him to always be there for him, even when they’re old and she keeps that promise, which in fact may be the most beautiful part of the story and the most pure example of love.

The novel is Judith’s journey through life, always on the edge of Eliot’s as he goes on to do great things. Using her other loves and marriages as a means to have a life of her own, separate from Eliot. Her own love life comes with it’s own issues and temptations like any marriage. There are betrayals and losses, brutal days. It is with startling honesty that Judith tells her story of how she humiliated herself for love, which a woman once she reaches old age at some point has done over someone. Not every great love story is mutual nor mutually exclusive. Love is sometimes one sided, but is it any less true? Even when she tries to push away, there is always her heart beating for Eliot and it is tender until the end, loyal if not returned. Eliot, again and again ‘not choosing me’ and yet not quite ever releasing her either. She is the constant friend, and in old age, let her children think she is crazy, she will not refuse Eliot when he needs her the most. It may be painful to recognize yourself either in Eliot or Judith, the worshiped or the devoted. The end was tender and sad, dare I say beautiful?

Published November 12, 2019

She Writes Press

 

 

 

The Girl with the Louding Voice: A Novel by Abi Daré

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But I don’t want to born anything now. How will a girl like me born childrens? Why I fill up the world with sad childrens that are not having a chance to go to school? Why make the world to be one big, sad, silent place because all the childrens not having a voice?

Adunni’s mother once told her that an education is the only way for a Nigerian girl to have a ‘louding voice’. Without an education, a woman cannot speak up for herself, will never be able to support a life of her own, nor have any say at all in what happens to her body, mind and soul. After the worst day of Adunni’s life, schooling is a long forgotten dream and all hopes die. It is after a tragic loss that her father demands Adunni be a dutiful daughter and become a third wife to a much older man, the taxi driver Morufu. This is the only way she can save her family when her father cannot afford the rent anymore, bad enough he couldn’t afford to let her continue her education, but a threat looms and he could lose the roof over their heads. As a daughter, her bride-price will be enough to pay the community rent so that her brother Kayus and father won’t be kicked out. But in forcing Adunni, only fourteen years old, to marry an old fool- he is breaking a promise to her mother. She must do as she’s told, never in a million years would she see her father and little brother homeless, hungry.

Just like that she is married off and slaving away as a third wife, hated by the first, Labake. Her welcome isn’t warm, it is a cold threat, “When I finish with you in this house, you will curse the day your mother born you…”  To first wife, Adunni is a husband snatcher, there to birth him children and try to replace her. What good is a woman if she isn’t fertile? Yet, this isn’t the worst of what Adunni will suffer through. She will do her time in Morufu’s house, where he is king to long suffering women who provide him with useless daughters. She learns fast just what it means for a man to have the devil inside of him. Obey, or there will be beatings. If she runs away, then what will that mean for her family who are now well fed? Her husband is, after-all, considered a rich man in his village- who else has two cars?

Running away isn’t necessarily the road to salvation. A girl with nothing is reliant on the kindness of strangers and too easily fooled into situations as bad as the ones she escaped from. Ignorance and youth make it impossible to navigate the brutality of those who would use it to their advantage. It is a crime to run, therefore what other choice is there than to bow your head in respect, work your fingers to the bone and endure, endure all manner of abuse, endure others taking their cut from your servitude? If the man of the house comes sniffing around, you do your best to hide. Sexual advances are the least she has to fear! Sometimes it is the women who are the biggest monsters. Take your beatings, do your duty even though it will never be good enough, even though the woman of the house will take her heartbreak out on you.

Through her suffering, Adunni also uncovers the horrible stories of the girls who have walked this exact path before her. Despite the violence, Adunni remains steadfast that she must do everything in her power to find her louding voice. This requires outwitting those who have all the power, and pushing herself despite her exhaustion, fear, and the constant reminder that she is nothing and never will be. She mustn’t believe what the others tell her, that it’s best to accept her station in life and stop her flights of fancy, imaging she could ever be more than a workhorse for others. She must remember her mothers dream for her, and use her words as a guiding light in these darkest of times.

This novel is painful because it sheds light on what is happening in other countries. Girls are trafficked and forced into modern day slavery, a female child a commodity when one can’t afford to feed their other children, especially the male children. Daughters are sold to afford a better life for everyone else, and this is modern times! We take for granted the luxury of an education at it’s most elementary level. We fear having the opportunity to send our children to college, imagine not having the money for basic schooling. In this novel, Morufu’s hunger for an heir exposes how women are always the ‘curse’, the ‘failure’. His first wife’s animosity is a matter of her being ‘not right in the head’, to Morufu’s way of thinking, yet what drove her to rage, madness? Imagine the demands, the crushing weight of the pain all three wives endure, all because of old beliefs. A devil inside of him, indeed.

There is hope for Adunni through a sisterhood bond but other girls aren’t so lucky. It’s eye opening. It is a relief to know the freedoms of the Western World and yet trafficking of human beings happens here too so I am not getting on some high horse. Village life in Nigeria for Adunni is certainly not like our modern ways and superstitions still run rampant. Sacrificing goats in the hopes of birthing a son, killed for loving someone who was forced to marry another, marrying girls to old men so they can use their burgeoning fertility and have sons… it can feel like the dark ages, yet it is reality for many. Disposable girls, buried futures… but Adunni may just find her voice!

Publication Date: February 4, 2020

Penguin Group

Dutton

 

 

 

This Won’t End Well by Camille Pagán

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In reality, I’ve been expecting the best in spite of all evidence to the contrary- including an unshakable feeling that my so-called fiancé  would not be coming home tomorrow as he claimed.

Annie Mercer and her fiancé  (French teacher) Jon suddenly no longer seem to be on the same page about their future. Her important work as a chemist has ‘derailed’ after an incident involving her heinous boss Todd (who is way too hands on) , her best friend Leesa thinks every disaster can be cured with rose quartz and essential oil, products Leesa is peddling with serious ‘entrepreneurial spirit’, and Jon has abandoned her for Paris, informing her he needs space from everyone. This space encompasses her the most. Living with her mother seemed like the best thing a loving daughter could do, especially knowing her engagement has given her mom something to live for, pulled her out of her funk. It is also a chance for Annie to figure out her next move. Now, the hunger in her mother’s eyes to see Annie married is too much to bear, especially with Jon running off. Annie is resolved to keep new people out of her life, but her mother’s new neighbor gives her something to distract her, a brief escape from the disaster that is her own life. Cleaning houses for the neighbors is a welcome break from residue anger about what happened in her former work, the perfect way to make money while she maintains her ‘vow of interpersonal abstinence’. Where is the harm in watching a young life blooming?

The new neighbor is Harper, gliding through life on heels and for Annie, ‘watching her makes me feel like life could be easier’,  the shame though is Annie’s great brain never ceases to be thinking, chewing on all her problems. If only she could be as carefree. She has had enough drama, particularly the soap opera her own relationship with absent Jon has become. Jon, who won’t even reply to her emails, how is she supposed to have faith he will come back in time for their wedding date, looming awfully close now, when he has gone silent on her? Better to spend her time watching Harper, only to discover someone else is watching the intriguing beauty too. This someone is Mo, the suspicious ‘twenty-something Middle Eastern man’ that has raised alarm for the online neighborhood community. Mo, who catches her spying on Harper. Mo, however, has a purpose in his snooping, after-all it is his job as a private investigator to watch people. As the two get to know each other, he offers her the chance to work alongside him. Why not? It could be fun.

It isn’t long before she is breaking her vow to keep people out. Her relationship with Jon is going through some type of metamorphosis, as he is acting out of character. She knows he loves her, but with all this changing, are they still right for one another? Will the pull of Paris put too much strain on their love? Can she compare to the charms Paris has for her Francophile beloved? Will her best friend ever stop sipping the essential oil Koolaid (because surely it isn’t Annie who is the problem) long enough so Annie can find comfort and support? Is living with her mother truly just a ‘temporary arrangement’? Should she be enjoying herself this much working alongside Mo?  Will she ever confront what happened at the lab, so that she can free herself to make career choices? Will she get on a plane and meet Jon in Paris, when he is back in contact and desperate for her to come and see for herself why he is having a hard time leaving? She might just love France as much as him! Imagine the possibilities!

Annie is in her own way, and it’s fun. You should hate Jon, because is it really necessary to go cold turkey in your relationship because you’re having a ‘France loving crisis’, but he is too mild to offend. Annie is a handful, and of course she can be self-centered in the way so many of us are, the star of our own life and all that, but she makes for a funny little novel. She doesn’t have anything figured out, retiring from her problems seems like the answer, but the fastest way to find yourself a target for more drama is a self-imposed sabbatical from the school of life. She has some serious self-reflection on the horizon, and it’s not just about her love life. Despite her refusal to open herself to new relationships, Mo and Harper may well be the catalyst she needs to get her life back on track, but where it will lead is up in the air.

A fun, fast paced read about sexual harassment, love, career, friendship, family and snooping. It may end well, despite evidence to the contrary.

Publication Date: February 25, 2020

Lake Union Publishing

 

The Fortune Teller’s Promise by Kelly Heard

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Not there, she thought. You don’t have to go back there. Not even in your mind. Not ever.

Dell’s childhood in the forest of Blyth, Virigina with it’s magnificent natural beauty and calm is the opposite of life inside her house. Born to a flower child mother Anita, whose beauty is the center of her life more than her son and daughter, and her father Gideon, a ‘dark-eyed’ construction worker suddenly laid off after an injury that relies on pain pills to get through his painful days, leads to nothing but chaos and storms between them. Mother longs to maintain the beauty queen status of her early days, and nothing can keep her anchored to her family. Longing to be free, she moves to a rented bungalow. It is here, when Dell should be spending quality time with her mother because ‘she needs a bra’ and it’s a mother’s place to teach a young woman everything she needs to know, that the fault line appears. Anita would rather her time be filled entertaining men who are dizzy over her beauty than playing mommy. It is these types of men who have an edge that can cut. Anita’s reaction to her daughter’s confession is met with anger and blame rather than comfort, and outrage. It is also when Dell learns that people like her have to shut up and take it, because those in higher standing have the power to hurt those you love. Especially when your family is covered in dirt, unwilling or unable to climb out.

Growing up under the cloud of the shame of her parents, the town doesn’t let Dell forget her place. But it is love that ruins everything, her one chance to be a single mother, better than her own ever was, is impossible when he mother urges her to give the baby a better life, put it up for adoption. The church can find someone better suited, and what is someone like Dell to do without the support of the child’s father or even her own family? She could never afford to support her baby, girls like her don’t have options. There is no way she can remain in this flea-bitten town, nursing the ache in her heart where her baby girl has nestled in. There’s nothing for her to do but abandon the past. She sets up shop as a psychic as she leaves the town, and her family, behind. Though she doesn’t consider herself a ‘proper psychic’, she is skilled in knowing what troubles others, uses the tools of the trade to get a clearer picture. If only she could intuit her own needs, heal her own wounds, clean up the disaster that has become her reality.  She will never return to Blythe, nothing can make her… except learning when her mother tracks her down that her child has gone missing! The problem is, within moments of that revelation, silence overtakes her mother and life seems to have no end of testing Dell’s merit. She must return to the scene of her most heartbreaking acts, and discover that the past is never done with us. Is it possible, dare she hope to make things right?

This was novel didn’t have as much ‘psychic’ steam as I thought it would from the title. The promise is much more about motherhood. Love swims through the novel, as does the murky grime of disappointment and narrow minded ways of some small towns. The haves vs the have nots. It was a decent read, but it’s not what I expected. I was thinking there would be at least a little more focus on how she ‘knows’ how to fix other people’s hurts. The psychic bit is pretty mild but if you are looking for a story about motherhood, difficult dysfunctional families and a little romance, this is it.

Publication Date: October 30, 2019

Bookouture

The Sisters of Summit Avenue: A Novel by Lynn Cullen

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Her whole life, June had quietly taken whatever knocks had come her way.

Sisters and their rivalries, the imagined and real inequalities of a parent’s love and attention, how it bleeds out upon the world, infects the future. This is a novel about how we often make life choices based on the trauma of our past, and how sibling issues can alter the course of our lives. Ruth has always felt her life has been lived in the shadow of June’s radiant beauty. Everywhere she goes, people are under the spell of it. Luck seems to ooze from her very blessed pores. Of course the natural flow of her life has made her wildly successful, working as one of “the Betty’s” conjuring creative recipes in the famous Betty Crocker test kitchens that other wives, mothers are dying to emulate. Ruth? Ruth is trapped running her family’s farm in Indiana, while her beloved husband is trapped in his body, with the mysterious ailment “the sleeping sickness”. Encephalitis lethargica was a widespread, mysterious, bizarre ailment that left a devastating number of people dead or institutionalized as they were left in a sleep like state. (Some of you may recall the movie Awakenings starring the late, great Robin Williams and Robert Deniro whose character’s symptoms present much the same as John, based on Oliver Sacks non-fiction book about patients who contacted encephalitis lethargica). This is a serious disease not even fully understood today. It is grave indeed, and Ruth is conflicted between resentment and pity.

Ruth must deal with this devastating illness that has stolen her strong husband, leaving in his stead a mostly unconscious (or is he aware still of his surroundings) man. It is on her to raise their girls, varying in ages, to keep their farm going, no mean feat! Her mother is by her side, mostly tending to John while Ruth handles the backbreaking work, becoming more and more bitter with the passing of each day. Why must she always be the one that awful things always seems to befall? Every time she has a chance at happiness, things sour and it’s made all the worse having to witness her sister always rising like cream above the drudgery of life. If God has favorites, certainly it is June, always June and never Ruth. Why, even her own husband, before the illness still longed for the golden beauty! She just knows it. It must be hard to feel like you were made up of leftovers, as if your sibling is meant for great things because of their beauty while you have to fight for every crumb of affection you can rake out of this hungry world. But things are never what they seem.

June’s always garnered attention, unwanted as much as welcome, and while many things in life appear to come easy for her, it is the very things she desires most, the very ones that give life meaning that elude her. She has never understood the bitter heart that beats in her sister Ruth’s chest, why she seems to always want what she has, why she has laid claim to the one man she loved so much. But all of that is in the past, right now she has a career, one that serves as a creative outlet and makes her very popular and while her marriage to Richard, a successful, wealthy doctor seems enviable, there lurks shame within their marriage, things that she has been told she cannot provide for him, things a woman should be able to do. How she would love children, like Ruth has.

Maybe this visit to Ruth and John’s will be a bridge reconnecting the sisters, even if she is conflicted about seeing John in his frozen state. Her heart still has wounds, there was never closure. She would never betray Ruth, she feels pity for her, for everything Ruth must bear on her shoulders, but the past is still a fresh ache. If only she had someone to confide her own sorrows in.

Everyone seems to be harboring secrets and heaping piles of guilt, Ruth with her hired help, June and Richard with what they tell each other and hide, longings that have stewed in John’s sleeping heart, and their mother Dorothy. Dorothy whose own dark past as daughter of the hired help in a wealthy home is the seed to the ruinous relationship between her girls. John’s bizarre illness and the way disabled children, adults were treated ‘back in the day’ give the novel a bit of heft and keeps it from being just another tale about sibling dynamics. Too, the mention of hard times, people at the end of their rope trying to survive and giving up. Ruth is bitter, but not everyone can be an upbeat, gracious Pollyanna when they have spent their life feeling inferior. Maybe their mother is a bit guilty of the imbalance in the sister’s relationship, and maybe her reasons make sense, but you know what people fail to realize, perception is what drives us. We are often shaped by the reactions of our first society, our own parents, and it’s there in the looks Ruth gets from her own, especially when she is John’s chosen. Ruth is hard to take, she is so used to losing that it’s hard for her to see that she has so much love. Her children adore her, and even June still loves her. But her fault has always been in romance, you cannot force the hand of love, and you cannot make people want you more by trying to muddy or take from another. Not the right people anyway.

It is a lesson in self-sabotage and maybe even pride, because as awful as everyone will likely feel Ruth is, June sure as hell doesn’t fight much for what she wants either. The ending threw me, when the past comes knocking at the door, it happened too fast. I think I was expecting more of a fight when a certain character wants to stake his claim in the family, so to speak. It’s never that simple. I expected a meatier ending, but it’s a good read all the same, even if all the characters wore my patience! Half the time you want to say, grow up, speak up, just stop this nonsense. My god but we get in our own way, don’t we?

Publication Date: September 10, 2019

Gallery, Pocket Books

Mrs. Everything: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner

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“This life,” Cal said. “You have to give up a lot, I have family who won’t see me. It’s hard. It’s not for everyone.”

In the beginning, it is older sister  Jo “tall and gangly and everything she did was wrong” and little sister Bethie ” chubbie and cute” a child who “always said exactly the right thing” that complete the makeup of the Kaufman family.  Where Jo is closer to her father, Bethie is Mommie’s perfect darling, a child who doesn’t behave in the unnatural manner her older ‘tom boy’ sister Jo does. It is 1950’s Detroit and their new home is surrounded by families just like them, “birds of a feather” all perfectly flocking together in rhythm and God forbid you are “different.” No one tests their mother more than Josette, who doesn’t mean to be so difficult and really cannot explain why things that come easy to others is so hard for her. She can’t help but be herself, even when she tries to be the good girl her mother desires, catastrophe follows and boy does her mother make sure she knows just how much she fails to be the daughter she wants.

It isn’t only within her family that her nature brushes against societal norms. Friendships with other girls mean more than they should, her wants and desires for her future are thwarted by the times Jo lives in, and will chip away at her dreams of freedom. An athlete, a writer, liberal minded coming of age in a conservative world will whip her into an acceptable shape. Through betrayal of those she loves most, and of course responsibility to her little sister and impossible to please mother, Jo (like countless women before her) will forget herself in order to fit in. Marriage, children… she is finally a good girl, right? The world isn’t ready to accept a woman like her, to let her live freely. It’s not safe to be her true self.

Bethie’s beauty should make her world a tasty confection and guarantee her most fevered dreams come true. Her mother knows she’s meant to be something special one day!  A girl who everyone loves immediately, the perfect lil’ helper, people pleaser, someone whose very nature charms everyone in her orbit, why… what could possibly derail her future? Sometimes, a girl with so much appeal attracts nothing but danger, through no fault of her own. Bethie learns nothing stays sweet in an ugly world, and before long becomes the subversive daughter that Jo once was, refusing to settle in one place nor with a man. There is so much to taste in the forbidden elsewhere! If Josette wants to spend her life being content, tied to convention… well bully for her. No one is going to tame Bethie. Let Jo pretend!

This is a book about women, their options, the opportunities and lack thereof. The shaming when a daughter, mother, sister dares to look beyond the plans other’s have made for her. The disapproval she will encounter when she strikes out on her own, against the will of her mother/father or husband. The ever looming threat of losing your family if you chose anything for yourself that isn’t ‘approved’. The lessening that is expected when one becomes a wife, mother. Before long, you’ve lost yourself. Too it is about the abuse that girls welcome (according to the world, at least) or have to accept for the sake of survival.

The sisters who once had to support each other drift apart, each denying themselves their true natures. Life happens, it brutalizes and punishes in unequal measure. From an early loss both find themselves sacrificing their dreams and even innocence. It is a story about sisterhood, motherhood and in a sense, self-hood and how every choice or the transgressions of others, and the demands the world puts on us makes us who we are, for better or worse. The question is, can we come back to the self we once buried in order to be accepted?

What is more heartbreaking than thinking about the deaths we suffer, internally, of our many selves? The times Josette and Bethie came of age in were full of strife and civil unrest. Children who questioned their parents ways, be it a mild irritation such as why the fuss of dressing like some cookie cutter family, or the heavy, senseless, shameful weight of their parents racism weren’t exactly the ideal child. Children didn’t question the ways of the adult world, period. Step out of line, and you will be tarred and feathered. You were not free to love where you wanted, with so many constraints, this is why free love (social, sexual movement) was born. Many people bucked convention. Yet children eventually want to please, to have their mother/father’s love, sadly at the expense of their real selves. Other little boys and girls, they get too much unwanted love from some adults. It’s hard to write about this novel without giving away everything that happens, but it truly is a novel full of heartbreak and hope. When it’s your turn to be a parent, despite promising yourself you will do better than your mother/father, you can bet a child will introduce you to your weaker self. Life happens, and comes full circle and at heart it is a tale of two sisters that find their way back to each other.

Publication Date: June 11, 2019  Out Tomorrow!

Atria Books

White Dancing Elephants: Stories by Chaya Bhuvaneswar

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She’s probably my age, I realize suddenly, early forties, but she has not spent her life on mistakes.

This collection of stories by Chaya Bhuvaneswar is about more than being an immigrant or one’s ethnicity, it is also about feminism and LBGTQ women. From the start, the reader is on an emotional journey, living as long as it takes to read a story on the character’s breath. It begins with White Dancing Elephants, where a woman shares the aftermath of her miscarriage, gut wrenching and mind numbing, a trauma to think of what could have been, should have been. “Before my last morning with you, my love, I didn’t know rage.” Loss is a rage, a dead future. The writing doesn’t lessen in intensity, in The Story of the Woman Who Fell in Love With Death, there is a different sort of longing, a young boy relates a fictional tale with the loss of his own sister, the girl whom is never mentioned, and lives in the hidden photograph in his father’s sock drawer. Is she really a runaway, just what are the family’s dirty secrets? There is a line in the story that must express how many boys/men feel “Girls expected him to prove to them what boys were like: shallow, callous, laughing animals that could smell irresistible.” That in a book full of stories to make the unseen world of the female life visible, living particularly in the skin of women of color, in such an ugly world full of abuse and slurs, the author too was able to expose a vulnerability in a young male really touched me. Someone who wanted to be a boy good enough to rescue his own sister, heart wrenching! The body, how the female body is her own fault for every horror the world can think up to torture. It’s always her fault, isn’t it? How brutal and true the final line in the story (I won’t share it here, read it). I had a lump in my throat, thinking of what it means to be female in our world, thinking about my own daughter.

There are affairs and betrayals, fissures in friendship,illness, stories of sexual abuse, even if it’s just hinted at. Denial of one’s sexuality for the sake of family tradition, even if it means returning to India and ‘putting oneself in the ground’, burying oneself, rejecting our genuine identity and love for what’s expected. One of my favorites is Asha in Allston, and the ‘mannequin with hardware’ who definitely isn’t a HER! The horror in feeling jealous of perfection while trapped in a real failing human body, robbed of every future dream. I think I related in the sense that though there is no MALIN in my life, we women have a form of perfection in our face 24/7, and when illness enters… well… it’s that much more evident, of course in the story she lives with the ‘ideal female’ thanks to her husband’s job and genius. Tormented by the uselessness of her own body, impossible not to compare herself to this non-entity! Rage to turns to flame!

It’s an engaging provocative collection, the stories aren’t all about women as victims either. Sometimes they do selfish things, we’re imperfect creatures, as much as men, we just have to pay more for being human. As said in the life you save isn’t your own, “wrong decisions had all bloomed like seeds”. It got me to thinking about how much control we have, about decisions and chance how we often go against our own desires to please others, and about how much heavier choices are for females. Worse, about all the little girls in the world robbed of any choices at all, the orphan handler was pretty intense, dark.

A new voice in fiction, yes read her debut!

WINNER, DZANC BOOKS SHORT STORY COLLECTION PRIZE
WINNER, NARRATIVE MAGAZINE “TOP FIVE STORIES OF THE WEEK” FOR 2017

Finalist for the 2019 PEN American Robert Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection

Published October 2018

Dzanc Books