Book club is back! And our recent book of choice was ‘Girl, Woman, Other‘ by Bernardine Evaristo. Vanille and I wanted to read this book, as it was highly recommended as a good book to read in general, but also in the wake of the black lives matter movement making real strides and being at the forefront of news for several weeks (and still ongoing). Girl, Woman, Other seemed like a good book to dive into and further engage in not only the conversation of racism, but also seeing several different female perspectives in the process.
I don’t find this book to be an easy read by any means. As there are many characters introduced to us, it can sometimes be hard to feel invested in their story. The first chapter took me a minute to want to know more about the character Amma, but slowly as we learn more from her and the other characters along the way, the book gets into a nice rhythm. There were some women that I really enjoyed reading about and others that I just did not like. But that speaks to the talent of Evaristo in her ability to write from so many different view points and determine who these women are. Personally I really loved reading about Carole, Bummi, Hattie and some parts of Winsome’s story. These particular stories I either connected with them on a personal level due to shared view points or experiences, but also due to the history they tell us about. Particularly for Bummi and Winsome , their stories made me think about my father and other family members who came from Jamaica to the UK. This book definetly brought a tear to my eye more than once and just enabled me to think a little more about where I myself come from.
It’s easy for us to forget that the world was not always the way it is now. By no means do we have equality for all quite yet, but I cannot imagine just what my parents faced as an interracial couple and what my father and his siblings faced when they first came to the UK, at an age younger than I am now. This book helped me to think about what they went through and really resonated with me, about the many different experiences people will face not only due to race, but the other aspects the book explores such; as sexuality, gender and family issues.
It seems that Evaristo really leaves no subject from being explored. Throughout this book we see everything from sexuality and transgender issues explored, we see several mother- daughter relationships, racism throughout, rape, teenage pregnancy, abuse, mental health and so much more. Vanille also rightly pointed out that the men in the book are quite often shown in a bad light and certainly they are secondary characters throughout.
Overall, I think this is a book worth reading. Whilst I certainly had to pace myself in terms of getting through the book, once I finished it and discussed it with Vanille, it really hit me just how much we explore in one book. I do think it is a good way to show how racism can be seen in many ways, whether in a big obvious way, or the every day assumptions made, through micro aggression and sometime without words at all. This is also a great exploration to show how people can have such different experiences in life, and highlights how we really don’t know what others are going through. I certainly finished this book feeling more educated, filled with a better understanding and actually feeling really inspired.
Book rating – 7/10
Recommend – Yes
Read again – Yes