More of a 2 1/2 maybe. This book was a pain to get through and in all honesty I am not quite done. At times, the writing was very nice and others, it j...moreMore of a 2 1/2 maybe. This book was a pain to get through and in all honesty I am not quite done. At times, the writing was very nice and others, it just seemed to go on and on. The whole thing was a bit excessive yet I understand as a tragic novel, its purpose was to depress and induce sighs. My issue with it was perhaps the fact that despite feeling bad for the protagonist, she isn't that likable a person. The main character, Stephen Gordon, is a white, upper-class female-born "sexual invert" lamenting her desire for women and "innate masculine personality" and responding with horror to the world outside her privileged and sheltered upbringing. But if you can look past that shallow veil, there is much to be studied. If anything, this novel truly is a starting point for studying queer literature and queer identity origin in Europe and within privilege.(less)
This is a shining example of how studying a book can add to the enjoyment. I loved this novel. The beautiful and sometimes delicious prose made it an...moreThis is a shining example of how studying a book can add to the enjoyment. I loved this novel. The beautiful and sometimes delicious prose made it an easy read. The stream of consciousness isn't for everyone, I recognize. Many of the complaints I have read in reviews are things that are arguably deliberate and while I will not write an essay here addressing each one of them, I will just say I am thankful for being able to study this book and add a diverse array of perspectives to this novel. I found Bînh enjoyable and complex as a narrator. As someone fascinated with language, the room this book leaves to discuss it and all its implications excites me (and that, however, I AM writing a paper on). For a debut book, I think it is truly a great accomplishment and I will be reading more of Truong in the future for sure.(less)
Read this for class. I found some things (though they were minor, petty things in all honesty) hard to latch onto on a personal level but what this bo...moreRead this for class. I found some things (though they were minor, petty things in all honesty) hard to latch onto on a personal level but what this book says is so important. Clare is fearless and funny, strong and stubborn in the way that a good example of critical thought on society should be. I enjoyed the book and the discussions had on it very much. One of the most vital ideas contained within this book is the idea that nobody is a perfect all-righteous activist. Things in life will contradict and you may find value in two very opposite things, wondering where you (should) stand. It is worth it to try and make peace with that, to acknowledge the layers of human in all of us and the ways struggles may connect and what one problem may say about another.
It was a great introduction to me to the issues around disability. To understand the situation that disabled people are in, an able-bodied person needs to hear it from the source.
The afterword is especially important to those wanting to make a difference. I recommend multiple re-readings of that passage and I will ensure to take my own advice on that.(less)