Book Review: The Truth About Alice (Jennifer Mathieu)

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books

Pages: 336

Release Date: March 8th 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party.
But did you know Alice was sexting Brandon when he crashed his car?
It’s true. Ask ANYBODY.

Rumour has it that Alice Franklin is a slut. It’s written all over the ‘slut stall’ in the girls’ bathroom at Healy High for everyone to see. And after star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car accident, the rumours start to spiral out of control.

In this remarkable novel, four Healy High students – the party girl, the car accident survivor, the ex best friend and the boy next door – tell all they know.

But exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there’s only one person to ask: Alice herself.

Review:

This was a really interesting book told from several different points of view. Everyone at school has an opinion about Alice and what a slut she is, but no one asks Alice what the truth is. Each of the narrators knows a rumour about Alice that isn’t true, but none of them will admit it to everyone else, so the rumours around Alice grow out of control.

The other characters in the book are just as stereotyped as Alice: the popular girl, the jock, the nerd and they all have their own secrets to hide, as well as their truths about Alice. I loved the way each of them started out sounding every bit the high school clique but the more you read, the more they become real, 3D characters and not cliches.

The split narrative worked really well in this book. It felt like a character study rather than a plot-driven story, with each person revealing a little more of themselves and Alice each time. They all had distinct voices and I loved the different perspective each one brought.

This book showed the reasons behind everyone’s lies and how that led to rumours and often cruel treatment of Alice. Although there’s definitely malice from some, others are just trying to fit in or cover up their own secrets. While that doesn’t excuse their behaviour, it humanises them and adds depths to this story.

I’ve been reading a lot of books on feminism and treatment of women lately and this was another that really set me thinking. I think it is essential reading for teenagers and will definitely be recommending it to everyone I can.

Book Review: The Exact Opposite of Okay (Laura Steven)

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Publisher: Electric Monkey

Pages: 337

Release Date: March 8th 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has…

Review:

This is one of those books which just clicked right away for me.

Izzy is an amazing narrator: she’s funny, she’s sensitive – in her own way – and she just reads like a teenage girl. I immediately connected with her and her life: the way she uses comedy to shield herself from things, the way family means more to her than throwing everything into a pipe dream. It’s odd to get that narrative in a book – usually, it’s all ‘follow your dreams’, no matter the consequences. I liked that Izzy had ambitions, but also at her core wanted to take care of her Grandma Betty, who’d worked really hard to look after Izzy after her parents died.

At a party one night, Izzy has sex with two boys, one who happens to be a local politician’s son, and someone takes pictures and suddenly everyone knows about it. While Izzy is called a slut and degraded at every opportunity, there’s little to no fall out for the boys involved. And, as Izzy says, that is the exact opposite of okay.

This is such a current topic, with talks about revenge porn, consent and feminism featuring prominently in the media at the moment. My favourite thing about it was that Izzy constantly affirms to herself that she did nothing wrong. Despite everyone’s opinions about it – and everyone is more than ready to share those opinions – there’s nothing wrong with being a girl and enjoying sex and having sex with multiple partners. If that’s what you want to do, as long as you’re safe about it, that should be fine. It’s fine when we talk about guys doing it. So why is it that when a girl does it, she’s branded a slut and told she should kill herself?

This book happily sits alongside some of my favourite feminist young adult books, including The Spinster Trilogy by Holly Bourne as well as books that deal with consent and treatment of girls, like Asking For It by Louise O’Neill. It’s the kind of book I want to give to my teenage sisters, to inspire them and empower them, because that’s how I felt reading this book. I would have loved this as a teenager.

It’s not all empowerment though – for a funny book, there are some seriously dark and sad moments in this. Even though Izzy tries to hold her head high and let things wash over her, it’s hard when you’re the target of so much hate. I wanted to cry a few times throughout the book because I just felt so bad for Izzy.

There’s also some interesting bits on the ‘friend zone’ and ‘nice guy’ syndrome. You know the type: the ones who have been nice to you, listened to you moan about other boys and been there for you, then suddenly decide that means they’re entitled to your love. It’s interesting the way the nice guy in the story is portrayed, as you can see in his head he is doing things right by Izzy, but from her point of view it’s insulting and creepy and just ruining their friendship. It’s not something I’ve seen in a book before and it’s a great way of pointing out to teens as something to look out for. Remember, you don’t owe guys anything, no matter how ‘nice’ they’ve been to you!

Overall this was just a really fantastic read. It can be uncomfortable and upsetting at points, but sometimes I think the best books are. It will really make you think, make you laugh, and hopefully you’ll come away from it feeling as inspired and empowered as I did.


Copy of an art exhibit

Book Review: Naondel (Maria Turtschaninoff)

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Pushkin Children’s Books

Pages: 480

Release Date: April 6th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

In the opulent palace of Ohaddin, women have one purpose – to obey. Some were brought here as girls, captured and enslaved; some as servants; some as wives. All of them must do what the Master tells them, for he wields a deadly and secret power. But the women have powers too. One is a healer. One can control dreams. One is a warrior. One can see everything that is coming. In their golden prison, the women wait. They plan. They write down their stories. They dream of a refuge, a safe place where girls can be free. And, finally, when the moon glows red, they will have their revenge.

Review:

This book just blew me away. I really enjoyed Maresi when I read it but this was in another league. I wasn’t sure what to expect in the prequel but this perfectly told the story of the women who founded the Red Abbey.

The book is told from the point of view of each of these women. It starts with Kabira, a young girl who is the guardian to a powerful spring called Anji. When Iskan, the son of the Vizier enters her life, he seduces her and she tells him Anji’s secrets. He uses them to gain power for himself, forces Kabira to marry him and takes control of her life. As he gains more and more power, he enslaves other women and destroys many lives.

The book weaves together the stories each of the women beautifully. Once Kabira’s first section was done I thought I’d struggle to start reading someone else’s story but I quickly became invested in each women’s tale. I loved how they connected to each other, even though their connection was Iskan and the horrible things he did to them. It helped the story cover a large time span without feeling like you were jumping too far forward or missing anything and it was interesting to see the women through each other’s eyes.

I felt most connected to Kabira, probably because she started the story off and I felt she suffered the most at Iskan’s hands. It wasn’t just the rape, but what he did to her family, her children and how he controlled and ruined her entire life. I really felt her pain and grief and sometimes when I was reading it just made me so sad. The other women were all very interesting and different: I particularly liked Estegi and Sulani’s story, especially the revelations at the end (no spoilers!) Orseola’s dreamweaving was fascinating and Iona’ story was really intriguing and sad.

Iskan was an incredible villain. I seriously hated him. He had no redeeming features in my eyes, not after what he did to all of them. He was very well written, his motivations clear and his actions all true to his character. It takes skill to write a character that you can loathe like that: he made my skin crawl whenever he was on the page.

This is a gritty read and it feels weird saying I enjoyed it when I think about all the horrible stuff that happened in it. But it was beautifully written with incredible characters, and while the main part of the book was filled with heartache and tragedy, there was also hope. If you’ve read Maresi then you know what these women go on to create and you get a glimpse of this at the end, though this book is really the story of their lives before they founded the Red Abbey. After all they go through at Iskan’s hands, it’s easy to see why they created a place where men weren’t allowed and women could be taught their worth.

I cannot recommend this book enough, whether you’ve read Maresi or not. If you enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale or Only Ever Yours then you’ll love this. It’s tragic and painful and hopeful and empowering and I just loved it.

Book Review: Maresi (Maria Turtschaninoff)

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Pushkin Children’s Books

Pages: 256

Release Date: January 5th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Maresi came to the Red Abbey when she was thirteen, in the Hunger Winter. Before then, she had only heard rumours of its existence in secret folk tales. In a world where girls aren’t allowed to learn or do as they please, an island inhabited solely by women sounded like a fantasy. But now Maresi is here, and she knows it is real. She is safe.

Then one day Jai tangled fair hair, clothes stiff with dirt, scars on her back arrives on a ship. She has fled to the island to escape terrible danger and unimaginable cruelty. And the men who hurt her will stop at nothing to find her.

Now the women and girls of the Red Abbey must use all their powers and ancient knowledge to combat the forces that wish to destroy them. And Maresi, haunted by her own nightmares, must confront her very deepest, darkest fears.

Review:

I’d heard a lot about this book on Twitter and was really excited when I was offered a copy for review.

The book has quite a slow start – I felt like not much happened in the first hundred pages or so, aside from Jai’s arrival to the Red Abbey – but I really enjoyed that, which is unusual for me. I normally need more to hold my attention, but I just enjoyed the world building. Turtschaninoff’s writing is really beautiful, the descriptions flowing and vivid and I just wanted to soak up as much of the world as possible.

The relationships in the book were really special. I love a book that doesn’t focus on romance, and this book was all about the friendships between the girls and the Sisters. Maresi forms a close friendship with Jai, helping her to settle into the Abbey and reveal some of the terrible secrets of her past. She also has a special bond with the younger novices, helping out with them even though it’s not one of her duties. I loved Maresi’s compassion and her thirst for knowledge – the fact that she calls what is basically the Abbey library a ‘treasure room’ tells me we’d definitely get on!

When the action does come in, it’s fast paced and full of tension. The men from Jai’s past follow her to the island and the women must band together to stop the threat and save Jai. I loved how this was done at first – without spoiling anything, it was very original – but when the second threat came, it felt like they were a bit defeated by the men. For a book that felt very pro feminist this seemed a bit of a switch, as the women were totally at the mercy of the men. I think I was hoping for a bit more awesome women action there, although Maresi does come in and save the day in an interesting way.

One bit that stuck out to me was an interesting comment by one of the men, about how he was trying to help them and they only had themselves to blame for what was going to happen to them. It made me think of today’s rape culture and victim blaming and felt like a real reflection of life right now.

*Possible minor spoilery bit here but it’s something I really wanted to say*

The ending came too soon for me – I really wanted to see what happened to Maresi next. I felt strangely proud of her decision to leave the island, even though it felt like the easier choice was to stay there, where she had friends and love and food and safety. But what she said was right: it’s not enough to create one small safe place for women and hoard all the knowledge there, and I admired her decision to go out and do the good she could in the world.

I really enjoyed this book, with it’s gentle beginning and action packed ending, the gorgeous world it built and the amazing female friendships it focussed on, and I can’t wait to read the sequel and learn more about the Red Abbey and it’s origins.

4

Book Review: What’s A Girl Gotta Do? (Holly Bourne)

Publisher: Usborne

Pages: 432

Release Date: August 1st 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

HOW TO START A FEMINIST REVOLUTION:

1. Call out anything that is unfair on one gender

2. Don’t call out the same thing twice (so you can sleep and breathe)

3. Always try to keep it funny

4. Don’t let anything slide. Even when you start to break…

Lottie’s determined to change the world with her #Vagilante vlog. Shame the trolls have other ideas…

Review:

I super loved Am I Normal Yet? and enjoyed How Hard Can Love Be? but when I read the blurb for What’s A Girl Gotta Do? I knew this one was for me and I was crazy excited for it. It’s one of the few books I’ve bought for myself recently, rather than review copies or gifts.

Although Evie is still my favourite of the group, I have a soft spot for Lottie and her loud mouth and massive brain. Feminism is a hot topic at the moment and I’m really interested in it, so I was looking forward to seeing how her experiment went.

Lottie decides to do a month long project where she calls out every instance of sexism she sees, videoing it all with a male classmate who doesn’t seem to support her cause. She knows it’s going to be a tough job but she isn’t prepared for the emotional exhaustion that comes with it.

Although she tries to keep it funny, Lottie has a tendency to go on angry rants which resemble the stereotypical image of ‘angry feminist’. Although this isn’t always the best way to get her point across, she justifies it as her right to be angry: why would you not be angry when you see inequalities which people don’t seem to notice or care about?

It made me sad how little support Lottie got from classmates. I know it’s probably realistic for schools today but from the young people I know, I hoped there would be more support behind her (I guess I just know very awesome young adults). Lottie’s very liberal parents are also surprisingly unsupportive, telling her to ‘pick her battles’ and prioritise her Cambridge interview over her principles. I loved the internal debate on this one for Lottie: it was her future v. her principles and it wasn’t an easy choice. The way I saw it, hopefully a university like Cambridge would appreciate what she was doing, and if they didn’t then they weren’t worthy of her as a student.

When the trolls came out it was so accurate to real life, which I’m pretty used to seeing. But experiencing it from the victim’s point of view was really horrible and my heart went out to Lottie. I think all trolls should have this as required reading so they can see what their hurtful and stupid comments do to people.

I know Holly Bourne wrote a note afterwards that she was only really writing about feminism from one point of view, but I did think it was a shame that all three protagonists were white and straight. That’s leaving out a wide range of teens who might not see themselves in these characters. But I know you can’t cover everything and I still love these books.

I intended to write a few of my own sexism experiences/observations in this review but it ended up being longer than the review! So I’ll be posting those separately in a few days time.

This whole trilogy is a triumph and I would recommend it for everyone, regardless of age or gender (I’ve already lent the first to my dad and he enjoyed it). They’re fun and funny but also talk about so many important issues. They’re definitely in my top favourite trilogies now.

Copy of an art exhibit

Book Review: How Hard Can Love Be? (Holly Bourne)

Publisher: Usborne

Pages: 480

Release Date: February 1st 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Amber, Evie and Lottie: three girls facing down tough issues with the combined powers of friendship, feminism and cheesy snacks. Both hilarious and heart-rending, this is Amber’s story of how painful – and exhilarating – love can be, following on from Evie’s story in Am I Normal Yet?

All Amber wants is a little bit of love. Her mum has never been the caring type, even before she moved to California, got remarried and had a personality transplant. But Amber’s hoping that spending the summer with her can change all that.

And then there’s prom king Kyle, the guy all the girls want. Can he really be interested in anti-cheerleader Amber? Even with best friends Evie and Lottie’s advice, there’s no escaping the fact: love is hard.

Review:

I had to read this straight after reading Am I Normal Yet? as I enjoyed the first book so very much.

This time it’s Amber’s turn to tell her story, and while I did grow to love her more as the book went on, I really missed Evie at first as I grew really attached to her in the previous book.

Amber has a very different set of problems to Evie – she craves love, whether it’s from her alcoholic mother, her dad who is preoccupied with his new wife and evil step-son, or the hot Prom King at the American camp she’s working at this summer.

As the title suggests, love isn’t always straight forward and Amber struggles with it over the summer. Her mother avoids all confrontation and talking about the past and constantly puts other things above Amber. Kyle might be an All American Cliche but he’s also the first boy who’s actually shown Amber any interest, but he also sends confusing messages and she doesn’t know what to think.

I enjoyed the feminism aspect of this book. In the previous book Amber often berated Lottie and Evie for their constant boy talk, but as she falls for one herself she realises what a minefield it can be. It can feel conflicting sometimes, to call yourself a feminist yet have movie style giggly/moaning conversations about boys. The Harry Potter references really made me want to re-read the series again and I loved how it linked in with relationship with her mother. The hopelessness of Amber and Kyle’s relationship also got me hard: I’m not saying it’s impossible to last but a relationship is so hard to maintain when you’re in completely different countries. I could see why Amber guarded herself so much.

The strained relationship with Amber’s mum did come to a fairly nice conclusion but I really disliked her through a lot of the book. I felt more understanding after she opened up about her alcoholism but for most of the book I just wanted to scream “WHY WON’T YOU LOVE HER?!” But as someone who hasn’t ever struggled with addiction like that I can’t even pretend to understand her problems. There was another event at the end of the book which I was a bit concerned about, as Amber’s behaviour got pretty reckless in my eyes (no spoilers!) and I was worried about endorsing that kind of behaviour, but I think it was resolved in a satisfactory way.

I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as Evie’s story but it was still a fantastic book. I know the third book is out shortly and I’m dying to get my hands on Lottie’s story as it sounds incredible <3

4

Book Review: Am I Normal Yet? (Holly Bourne)

Publisher: Usborne

Pages: 434

Release Date: August 1st 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

Review:

This has sat on my shelf for a little while now and after a quick poll on Twitter the people spoke and decided this was what I needed to read yet.

My first thought on finishing was OMG why haven’t I read this sooner?!

There were so many times in this book when Evie said the exact thing I’ve thought before. Like the stupid blue gel on the tampon adverts or the special period Nurofen which is just the normal one in a pink packet and twice as expensive. Feminism is a hot topic at the moment and a book like this is a must read for any teen wanting to know more about the subject. While some bits were familiar to me there was a lot that it taught me too. I love the Spinster Club and can’t wait to see how it develops over the next books (I’ve already started reading the sequel!) The book didn’t read too preachy either, showing how feminism related to different situations the girls got into rather than just telling the reader about it.

Another major topic of this book is mental health issues and how Evie deals with her OCD and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Although I feel mental health issues are more talked about now than they were when I was a teen, there’s still a long way to go. This book is a great addition to the conversation though as it bluntly debunks some myths about OCD and addresses the way we talk about mental health. I hate hearing someone say they’re ‘so OCD’ when they like cleaning or something equally trivial. Because that’s not what OCD is about. While I’ve known this, I didn’t really know much about the disorder and I feel Evie’s story is really enlightening. It doesn’t glamourise mental health issues and shows the real ugly side of the condition.

The boy issues in the book felt familiar from my dating days and while it was easier to pick out the jerks from this side of the page, I’ve been in Evie’s position before and it’s so easy to get suckered in by a pair of pretty eyes. I’m glad that Evie didn’t find herself a boyfriend and suddenly her illness was cured: I’ve read books like that before and it’s not only unrealistic but dangerous to teach teens that a relationship fixes all.

The book was really easy to read and got me out of the horrid reading slump I’ve had lately. My dad even got reading it when he visited and said he was engrossed by the first few pages. Bourne has a real talent for writing and I just want to devour all her books now.

 Copy of an art exhibit

Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)

Publisher: Vintage Books

Pages: 324

Release Date: July 5th 2007 (first published 1985)

Summary (from Goodreads):

The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.

Review:

This was a Christmas present from Nathan that I’ve been meaning to get round to for a while. I’ve wanted to read this since it was cited as an influence for Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours, which I adored. I’d heard of this book but didn’t really know anything about it.

It took me a little while to get into this, a combination of a bit of a slow beginning and the fact that I was only able to snatch a few pages here and there between looking after the wee baby. Once I got going though, I found it intriguing. I felt that the backstory was expertly leaked, just drip fed to you little by little, so you never had to read a big info-dumpy passage about this history that led to this situation. It also kept you guessing right the way through as to what really had happened to lead up to this, and how people had let it happen. I enjoyed piecing bits of it together from the early hints.

I liked the fact that the ending was ambiguous: it might be frustrating but it fitted the story well. I did struggle to read the lecture transcript at the end – I actually nearly skipped it, not realising it was part of the story! –  but it was worth it just to discover more about the society from a historical viewpoint (the lecture is set years in the future) and for more hints on what happened to Offred.

The way this book really grips you is how it could actually happen. Though it may seem far-fetched, it isn’t hard to imagine this happening. It’s probably scarier reading it as a woman than as a man, as you see women in the story stripped of all power and treated as objects rather than as people. There are elements of this in our society today: this story just takes that to the extreme.

My favourite thing about this is the scale of Offred’s story. She’s not trying to overthrow the awful regime she’s trapped in: just to find a way to cope. While this might not seem very heroic, not everyone is a Katniss or a Tris who needs to save the world, and it’s good to see the story of just a regular person living in these horrifying times. I liked that she focussed more on her loneliness, missing her husband and child, and just wanting to be held and loved.

This is such a powerful read, I can’t recommend it enough, and the fact that it has inspired one of my favourite books (Only Ever Yours) makes it all the more special to me.

 4

#RandomReads July Discussion

For the final post in July’s Random Reads, I’m going to be chatting about this month’s two Random Reads books in a bit more detail.

Our theme for this month was plays. I’ve read quite a few plays, though I have to say most were for studying reasons rather than pleasure (I studied theatre from GCSEs to my Masters degree). Not that I didn’t enjoy a lot of them, I just think it’s difficult to enjoy something sometimes when you’re being forced to read it!

As usual, Stacie and I picked really different books to read, and this time I did enjoy both of them. I’d read them both before, although Top Girls was such a long time ago I could barely remember it. My pick, The Wonderful World of Dissocia is one I’m really familiar with (as I performed in it a few years ago there were some scenes I read and still knew all the lines to too!)

I loved that both plays talked about issues that are incredibly important and close to my heart. Dissocia deals with mental illness, a topic that still has a lot of stigma surrounding it, which it really shouldn’t in this modern age. Similarly, the feminist issues in Top Girls shouldn’t, but are still an issue today, though things may have taken little baby steps forward since the play was written.

While I enjoyed reading both plays, it was clear to me that they were in that medium for a reason. I think I would have enjoyed both even more if I had watched them on stage, although for different reasons.

In Top Girls, I enjoyed reading it as I was able to take my time and understand all the different stories and conversations that often went on all at the same time. But it was also difficult to read with everyone talking over each other: I kept having to try and remember when someone was interrupting and where the conversation started up again and such. I think those parts would have been easier to understand if they were being spoken by the characters rather than being read by just me.

With Dissocia, I started to think it was as funny as I remembered it, and I think that’s because a lot comes from what the actors bring to the characters. There’s so much scope for development and physical humour, and a lot of the jokes rely on the delivery, which I have to say, isn’t always done right inside my head!

I think it was really good for me to read something this month that wasn’t my usual diet of pure YA!  I look forward to seeing what next month brings us.

See Stacie talk about this month’s #RandomReads over at her blog.

Book Review: Top Girls (Caryl Churchill)

This review is part of Stacie and Maia’s Random Reads
#RandomReads

Publisher: Methuen Drama
Pages: 176
Release Date: July 15th 2008
Summary (From Goodreads):
Marlene hosts a dinner party in a London restaurant to celebrate her promotion to managing director of ‘Top Girls’ employment agency. Her guests are five women from the past: Isabella Bird (1831- 1904) – the adventurous traveller; Lady Nijo (b1258) – the mediaeval courtesan who became a Buddhist nun and travelled on foot through Japan; Dull Gret, who as Dulle Griet in a Bruegel painting, led a crowd of women on a charge through hell; Pope Joan – the transvestite early female pope and last but not least Patient Griselda, an obedient wife out of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. As the evening continues we are involved with the stories of all five women and the impending crisis in Marlene’s own life. A classic of contemporary theatre, Churchill’s play is seen as a landmark for a new generation of playwrights. It was premiered by the Royal Court in 1982.

 

Review:


Top Girls is a play that I have read previously (of course, being a drama student) but not for many years, so I was excited when Stacie picked it as her #RandomReads choice. I couldn’t really remember what I thought about it. I do sometimes find Caryl Churchill plays go a little over my head, a lot probably to do with the fact some are quite topical to eras that I know little about. It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy them though, and Vinegar Tom has always been a favourite of mine.This is a tricky one to review because I didn’t find it provoked feelings in me such as liking it, or disliking it, rather, it just made me think. While I read it, I didn’t really think too much of it: I wasn’t exactly bored, but I wasn’t really enjoying it either. But afterwards it stuck with me and I kept returning to it for days afterwards.I think I would have enjoyed watching this play more than reading it. There’s a lot of overlap in the conversations: while this may be truthful to real life, it sometimes made it confusing to read. I imagine it would work better in practice than me trying to do it in my head…

For me, Top Girls captured a lot of what it is to be a woman. In the first scene, all these famous women from history tell stories of their escapades. Some of it is comedic, some incredible and some upsetting. We see a lot of how men try to (and often do) control women in some horrendous stories. In others, women need to imitate men just to be taken seriously. Their children are used as weapons against them.

It’s difficult to pin down the underlying feeling of the play. It could be seen as depressing, how these women are made to suffer in ways men are not. While some is historical, we all know that feminism is an issue and equality is not here yet. It could be seen as hopeful, the way these women do incredible things despite all the odds that are stacked against them.

After reading this, I would really love to watch the play on stage and see how that compares to reading it.

My Verdict:
 
4