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450 pages, Hardcover
First published October 2, 2018
“I don’t know what you’re referencing, madam,” the chairman says, his voice raised over mine.
“I’m talking about menstruation, sir!” I shout in return.
It’s like I set the hall on fire, manifested a venomous snake from thin air, also set that snake on fire, and then threw it at the board. The men all erupt into protestations and a fair number of horrified gasps. I swear one of them actually swoons at the mention of womanly bleeding.
“Too many white men,” she replies. Ebrahim laughs. Sim doesn’t. Across the table, she meets my eyes, and some invisible string seems to tighten between us.
You are not a fool, you’re a fighter, and you deserve to be here. You deserve to take up space in this world.
Her dark eyes meet mine and I look between her and Johanna. In the company of women like this—sharp-edged as raw diamonds but with soft hands and hearts, not strong in spite of anything but powerful because of everything—I feel invincible. Every chink and rut and battering wind has made us tough and brave and impossible to strike down. We are made of mountains—or perhaps temples, with foundations that could outlast time itself.
Felicity Montague really did that (found fulfillment in her own life without needing a romantic relationship but with two very close gal pals she loves very much and would die for)
“You’re trying to play a game designed by men. You’ll never win, because the deck is stacked and marked, and also you’ve been blindfolded and set on fire. You can work hard and believe in yourself and be the smartest person in the room and you’ll still get beat by the boys who haven’t two cents to rub together.”
I look to Sim, and she looks to Johanna, and Johanna looks at me, and I realize that, in that single moment, like a flash of hear lightning over a bare moor, all three of us are in control of our own futures. Our own lives. Where we go now. For maybe the first time in our lives. With my side pressed into Johanna’s and Sim’s dark eyes meeting mine, I feel newer than I’ve ever been.
Percy sees me off at the door with more affirming words but no hug or even a pat upon the shoulder. Thank God for friends who learn to speak to you in your own language rather than making you learn theirs.
As I watch the other passengers, it’s hard not to notice that Johanna and I are some of the only light-skinned Europeans aboard, and the three of us are the only women I can see. […] I can’t think of a time when I was in the minority like this. It must be daunting for Sim to travel Europe knowing that everywhere she goes, she won’t be like people around her.
Everyone has heard stories of women like us – cautionary tales, morality plays, warnings of what will befall you if you are a girl too wild for the world, a girl who asks too many questions or wants too much. If you set off into the world alone.
Everyone has heard stories of women like us, and we intend to make more of them.