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When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife
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May 2018: Family Drama > When I Hit You by Meena Kandasamy- 4 stars

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Tracy (tstan) | 1237 comments When I Hit You is shortlisted for the Women's Fiction Prize (formerly known as the Bailey's Prize, and the Orange Prize).

This is the story of an Indian woman who marries a professor she met online, a man who is a friend of a friend. Less than 4 months into their marriage, she is looking for a way out.

Note: this book has so many trigger warnings, it should come in a wrapped package with a label.

The names of the characters aren't ever mentioned- I'm not sure I remember any character in the entire story having a name. But those names are unimportant- it's the abuse that is front and center, and our narrator's reaction to it. His abuse starts as taking away her communication, moves to verbal, and ends as nightly rape and murderous threats. The desperation she feels as all of this happens is devastating. I actually found myself yelling at her to poison his food, or something- anything to get OUT.

And her parents were no help- her father even went so far as to tell her- get this- that to leave her husband would be selfish. How would it look to her FATHER'S friends if she had a failed marriage after only four months? Aargh!

The aftermath, which is not a spoiler, (it was mentioned in the first pages) was just as bad- victim blaming and shaming were rampant from men and women, of all ages and backgrounds, including her own lawyer and a "compassionate" policewoman who was taking her report- without judgment, of course.

What breaks my heart is the extremes she has to go to in order to get away from him and to just be safe. Even worse, abuse like this is everywhere. No woman, child, or man deserves to be controlled, and abusers like this man are still the ones who are believed, who turn the tables and make themselves out to be the victim. Hopefully, the movements like #metoo will continue to bring focus on abusers and bring about changes. There's a long way to go.

The writing was sparse and simple, but also so deceiving. The author is a poet, and it shows in her prose- she uses easy to understand words, but to great effect. There is nothing simple about this book. It is not enjoyable. But it is well written- the author has so much talent, and I will be looking for more work from her.


message 2: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6735 comments So, this sounds up my alley? Do you agree? India, dark, with spare poetic writing. Yeah. I think I have to add it.


Tracy (tstan) | 1237 comments I think you’ll love the writing. She takes a horrible situation and handles it so deftly- the writing is really tight, and the reader is involved.


message 4: by Sue (new)

Sue | 1391 comments I've had this on my TBR list - but keep putting it off due to the subject matter.

It sounds like it was extremely well written, and a book that would stay with you for a long time.


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