Susan's Reviews > I Who Have Never Known Men: A Novel

I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman
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Jun 11, 11


This is a thought-provoking read. It was listed under the post-apocalypse-futuristic-dystopia genre, but in my mind, it's much more of a psychological-sociological thriller. (That won't make it sound appealing to many, since I may be one of a very small group who would consider sociology to be thrilling. But for that very small group--this is a gem!)

A group of women and one child are kept locked up in an underground cave following an unspecified apocalypse. The unnamed child is the only one who remembers nothing of the "outside world," having been there almost her whole life. She has no family. The other women are not allowed to touch her and barely speak to her. She thus grows up left very much to herself to figure out various aspects of life.

Note: This is not science fiction. There is no cathartic moment when the details of the disaster fall into place. If you're looking for that, you will be sorely disappointed. Although it felt somewhat unsatisfying in that aspect, it was more than thorough in its philosophical exploration of human consciousness--both collective and individual. It sticks with you after you've finished.
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