I did not read anything about this book before I bought it. I assumed it was just a story about strong women in someone’s life, and how they influenced the writer and/or main character. But this is a series of essays or short stories about struggles that are very real (and some that aren’t quite real) for women all over the world.
Have you ever read a book that you need to finish? Not just because it’s so riveting or because you’re a completionist, but instead because you need there to be some sort of positive note? That is how I felt reading Difficult Women. It is an incredibly well written book; an awesome show of the way an author can insert herself and the reader into all sorts of intense situations. Roxanne Gay knows her way around a book, that is for sure. But like the realities of the stories in this book, most stories don’t have a happy ending.
This book discusses rape, death, and abuse above everything else. There are cheating couples, harassed women, and even a women who is held under the power of water, but those pieces didn’t stick with me as much as the rape, death, and abuse.
I can not recommend this book. At least, not in the way that I read it. I sat down to read a single, book length story and found that instead I was reading accounts of different women in different parts of the world, dealing with the incredibly terrifying things that many women deal with each and every day. I sat down to escape, but I do not like where I went.
When I finished reading Difficult Women, it was with tears in my eyes. The last story is the most powerful one, and one that I think people should be aware of, but on their terms. It is about a girl who is raped and gang raped, and much like reality; there are not consequences for those who hurt her, because she can not come forward with names. There is the possibility of the trial going wrong, and her having to deal with her attackers every day.
I think that this is an incredible book, but it is one that you should read in pieces, a book you should take your time with. The writing is phenomenal, but the subject matter is beyond difficult and the hard reality of it is terrifying.
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