Genres: Literary Fiction, Contemporary, Historical Fiction
I received a free copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Girl, Woman, Other (Winner of the Man Booker Prize of 2019) tells the story of twelve people whose lives intertwine, each of them experiencing the country they all live in at some point (UK) in a unique way, through different years and from different backgrounds.
This brilliant book certainly left an impression on me – telling the story of twelve different, unique people is no easy task, especially making the reader connect and empathize with each of them. The narration flows from one to the next, connecting them sometimes in subtle ways to each other, bringing to life their pain, their energy, their strength and their mistakes. Some chapters ended bittersweet. I did discount a star because sometimes the dialogue felt a little bit too script-like, a little too neat, and like some characters had a bit more depth than others. Which is to be expected from a cast of twelve main characters, I expect, but still from some of them I wanted more.
The fantastic thing about this book is how it and shows how different life can be for people who grew up close, in the same neighborhood and going to the same school, or how similar when growing up fifty years apart and coming from different countries. How different being a black woman in the United Kingdom can be. Most of the main characters are girls and women, and it also includes a non-binary character and a gay black man. Each one with their own history, and slightly or grossly misunderstood by others, their inner lives so much richer, more painful and complicated than their friends and family know. It was quite excruciating to see a character whose story you just read showing up one someone else’s story and being completely taken out of context, and you just want to explain to them that it’s not like that at all…
The exploration of each character’s identity and sexuality was such an interesting thing in this novel – I don’t remember by heart, but I think half or more of the main characters are LGBT+, with representation of lesbian polyamory, lesbian, bisexual, gay, a trans woman, and more.
Trigger warning for racism, colorism, bullying, domestic violence, rape, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, parental abandonment, alcoholism, drug abuse, death of children, post-partum depression. Perhaps I am forgetting a few more, but this list should cover most of it. Despite the long list, this isn’t a heavy, difficult book – the themes aren’t treated lightly, but there is nothing gratuitous about it.