If I could, I'd give this book 3.5 stars because I'm somewhere in between "liked it" and "really liked it."
An interesting take on the 'new' society pIf I could, I'd give this book 3.5 stars because I'm somewhere in between "liked it" and "really liked it."
An interesting take on the 'new' society post-forcibly-changed old society. I think my favorite part of the book was the first part that has Sister traveling from Rith (government controlled city with a 'big brother' feeling) to Carhullen (women-only society set up in the country, living off the land, and 'unlisted' according to government census counts). The philosophical discussion is also really interesting -- the whole question of sexuality, need, women's reliance on man, the government mandated control of women's bodies, gender roles and abilities, etc. I also would've liked to read more about this society when Jackie and Veronique were both around running it.
In a weird way, Jackie reminded me of Kurtz, from Heart of Darkness. It's like she's succumbed to some accepted madness that has everyone in her company adopting the madness while also being in awe of her, while others are like "what a sec, that's crazy!" She's seen and had to do some hard things, which I think make her into a completely different person. She has way more glimmers of humanity than Kurtz, though -- he's off the deep end without hope of being reeled in.
Here's a quote from the book that I liked: "But he must have known at heart that I was not depressed. He must have known it was more than a simple chemical response to the ongoing situation. Mine was a different kind of sickness. I didn't feel listless or oppressed. I didn't want drugs or numbness to mask my consciousness. I knew that everything around me was wrong. I could see it. I could sense it. And I had not yet found a voice with which to make my arguments. It still lay somewhere inside me, unexpressed, growing angrier."
Then, in a Q&A with the author at the back, Sarah Hall says: "The examination [of society:] is more about power systems, how people exist within them, how some people are rendered vulnerable or discriminated against, and how these systems can be broken. It's a book that celebrates female fortitude -- that's its focus. I'm certainly not attempting to damn men."...more
I'm torn between "it was okay" and "liked it," obviously I ultimately chose "it was okay" for a couple of reasons: The book was chock-full of ridiculoI'm torn between "it was okay" and "liked it," obviously I ultimately chose "it was okay" for a couple of reasons: The book was chock-full of ridiculousness. I mean, the main character is admittedly gay, but every single woman she 'hooks up' with is straight, and turn to her out of curiosity and experimentation and novelty. And she continually puts up with it and hooks up with them, while giving a little resistance with the whole "I don't hook up with straight girls" thing. And then, when she does get to a lesbian bar, there are two options: label as 'butch' or label as 'femme'. It's obvious the time period this book was written in, because you see the workings of feminists who are anti-butch or anything to do with maleness, and you see pure lesbian feminists who are exclusive of anything else around them. It was definitely an interesting read, though not the best written thing. I've still got to pick up Venus Envy to see what that's about, regardless of the impression this book gave me. ...more
This was a great book -- well-written, great story line, fascinating subject told in a no-holds-barred kind of way. Bohjalian doesn't mince words; heThis was a great book -- well-written, great story line, fascinating subject told in a no-holds-barred kind of way. Bohjalian doesn't mince words; he says what he means in an accessible way, which probably would shock people into the reality of the life of a transgender person if it's not something they've quite thought about before. He does a great job of telling a very difficult, many-layered, many perspectives sort of story, and it's clear that he's done all his research. So many excellent topics are tackled, from 'what is gender?' to 'is sexuality fluid?' to 'is love gendered?' and everything in between. I look forward to checking out other books by this author.
Some good quotes:
p. 219 "But everyone in Bartlett knew that the petition was all about Dana and my mom, and that meant there was a lot of not-in-my-backyard hypocrisy fueling it, too. And while I know teenagers are supposed to see adult hypocrisy everywhere, in this case it was pretty evident. A lot of people who would support gay rights in the abstract were very uncomfortable with a little in-your-face gender bending. Everybody who signed the petition was saying publicly that they believed my mom was courting obscenity and advocating perversion. They were saying they didn't want my mom in the classroom so long as she was living in Bartlett with Dana." (italics are my addition)
***Next quote is somewhat spoiler-like***
p. 313 "...first he -- and then she -- had given me the faith, however brief, that I might not wander unescorted through the rest of my life. We had been in love, and for months and months I had had hope -- one of the greatest gifts you can give someone on the far side of forty. When I would realize that, my anger would dissipate. I would no longer be mad. I would even feel a twinge of what might have been guilt. Or, at least, disappointment in myself. What did it say about me, I would wonder, that I could only love Dana as a man? Was I really that intractable, that emotionally obstinate? Or was sexual preference so profoundly ingrained in my gray matter and soul that even the desperate attraction I had felt for Dana that preceeding September ... couldn't budge it?"...more
This is the first book I've read that is centered around a serious queer relationship, and it was really great! The writing is intelligent, the plot iThis is the first book I've read that is centered around a serious queer relationship, and it was really great! The writing is intelligent, the plot is compelling, and the relationship/feelings between these two girls feels really genuine. It is definitely not one of those trashy romance books for teens, nor is it some huge in-your-face 'being queer is a lifelong struggle' story. I mean, parts of that come up, as is unavoidable perhaps, but I think what shines above all of that is the feelings expressed between these two people who are just simply attracted to one another. ...more
This is a great anthology about coming out, accepting one's self, and exploring emotions deemed "abnormal" by the overarching society. Some stories arThis is a great anthology about coming out, accepting one's self, and exploring emotions deemed "abnormal" by the overarching society. Some stories are better than others, as with any anthology, but the range of authors is amazing! Marion Dane Bauer, Francesca Lia Block (Weetzie Bat), Leslea Newman (Heather Has Two Mommies), Nancy Garden (Annie On My Mind), Gregory Maguire (Wicked), Lois Lowry (The Giver), Jacqueline Woodson (The House You Pass On the Way), Jane Yolen (Sister Light, Sister Dark) and many more. My favorites were "Blood Sister" by Jane Yolen, and "Parent's Night" by Nancy Garden....more
This book was great. I usually don't go for historical novels, but there was something about this book that just grabs you once you start reading, andThis book was great. I usually don't go for historical novels, but there was something about this book that just grabs you once you start reading, and you just have to keep reading. The writing is fantastic, which helps a ton, of course. The style of the book is sort of a picaresque novel, like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, only much better. The main character is a strong, flawed, "wild west" woman, and she's riding her horse all over "Tejas" and into New Orleans to get revenge for the murders of her siblings and her father. It reminds me of Huck Finn in the way that each chapter is a sort of new "stop" along her travels, and there is the almost unreal quality of continually running into the same people, even though she's traveling all over Texas! Micaela travels dressed as a man for her own protection against marauders and rampant, rapist men; she stops in saloons to gamble in poker; she drinks whiskey like a drunk, needing that sip in the morning to make it through her day; she falls in love with Clara and experiences jealous rages, brief moments of togetherness before going separate ways. The great thing about this book is the perspective from the Mexicans & Native Americans, who live in what is now Texas before it is part of the United States. The American white man is the villain in almost everything, and the battles such as San Jacinto, Santa Anna, the Alamo, are all told in real-life ways, rather than decreeing every white U.S. general or whatever, a super great patriotic hero. Truth is, they were terrible people, scalping Native Americans to extinction, treating Mexicans with the same racist disregard and nonsensical massacres, and being all-around terrible. Sure, we have the United States now, but don't you wonder why they don't teach us this stuff in history class in school, and why these battles are always glorified? ...more
This book is about sexual identity, bisexuality, sexual fluidity, being okay with who you are and who you like, regardless of gender. On top of all thThis book is about sexual identity, bisexuality, sexual fluidity, being okay with who you are and who you like, regardless of gender. On top of all this is a sweet story of romance and friendship. I was most impressed with how "okay" the characters were with liking someone of their own sex, and how "fine" it was for the close friends that their friends were bi or whatever. It didn't have to be a drawn out drama about angst with the world and "who am I" and "am I gay or straight?!" Don't get me wrong, there's drama -- I mean, it's a story about 16-year-old kids, so there you go, but it's more refreshing than some others. ...more
After the first book by Sara Ryan, this book was disappointing. Battle is the angsty character, full of drama and not talking about anything she is piAfter the first book by Sara Ryan, this book was disappointing. Battle is the angsty character, full of drama and not talking about anything she is pissed about, and she's frankly, sort of dull. So this book is from her P.O.V. and all about her summer before college, reconnecting with her slacker-of-a-brother, following him around like a puppy dog, even when he kicks her away; jumping in and out of bed with a woman who constantly tells Battle she's not really interested a whole lot, and that Battle is basically another lay, yet she keeps going there! Why?! It makes no sense, it's frustrating, and while I did read the whole thing, it just didn't do it for me the way "Empress of World" did. ...more