I wanted the first few books I read this year to represent me in some way and these three are all written by women and feature endurance and the kindness of strangers and what strength looks like, even when it’s been a long time in coming. All three are books I highly recommend, not just for women who have endured the level of pain described in these pages, but for the people who love them, who want to understand why no matter how you love someone, sometimes they can’t accept what you offer, why sometimes, people are self destructive and you have to wait until they no longer want to punish themselves and that sometimes love means just being patient enough to endure the struggle with them.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine /Gail Honeyman
Although Eleanor Oliphant definitely has some robotic characteristics, it is hard not to be drawn in by her naive understanding of society. She’s been through a lot and she has the scars to prove it, but now that she’s had time to heal and has decided it’s time to change her life, you will definitely want to hang around and watch, even if only to see what happens when she decides to look past the scars that we stopped noticing after a while too. There were definite laugh out loud moments in the story but the novel was also beautiful in its treatment of dealing with the complexity of our past and absolving ourselves of blame for things that we couldn’t control. I liked that the focus was on Eleanor’s transformation for her own benefit, not others. This is definitely a story about survival and strength and the benefit of opening yourself up to relationships even while you decide to close the door on others.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body /Roxane Gay
As a 12 year old girl, Roxane was sexually assaulted by someone she thought she knew. Her relationship to her abuser made her think she couldn’t tell her story so she hid it inside her, overeating to make herself fat, thereby creating a bigger and bigger buffer between her and the world as the story threatened to spill out of her. Yet, she continued to be hungry. This book is the acknowledgement of her experience, the choices she made and what she gave up to get here.
You Don’t Look Adopted/Anne Heffron
This is a collection of Anne’s thoughts, as raw as if she was sitting in front of you telling her story, about the pieces of her soul that she’s always felt were missing because of the question that’s plagued her entire existence: There must be something seriously wrong with you for your own mother to give you up because even when things get really hard, most people hang on to the things they love most. She shares the memories of her attempts to fill up those holes, the complications her decisions have brought, her appreciation for the people that adopted her and became her parents, but also the disappointments she fears she brought them because of her inability to receive the love they offered, and finally, her epiphany. Click here to read my full review
I talk about the books in this video
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