Top positive review
Raw, tender, sweet, fierce, perfect
Reviewed in the United States on September 2, 2019
I love the novels of Susan Straight, and when this memoir was released, I assumed I would devour it quickly. I didn't. The writing is so rich and pure, I found myself stopping often to re-read a sentence or a paragraph. I called friends to read them sections aloud. Sometimes, I stopped to reminisce; I spent my teen years in Riverside also. Sometimes I stopped to wipe tears away; my sons are biracial. We, too, had those painful but necessary conversations about when--not if--they would get pulled over. And they did. Thank goodness they returned home alive to tell the tale. How many times have they heard, "You fit the description..."? I've lost count. It never stops breaking my heart.
Susan Straight belongs in that esteemed group of women writers--Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Barbara Kingsolver, Louise Erdrich and others--who have had the courage to write both critically and lovingly of this country and a woman's place in it, keeping always in the forefront of their work the truth that the struggle is always far more difficult for women who have been disenfranchised by poverty, race, or status. This is my tribe. These were my beginnings. And every word of their work resonates with me.
In the Country of Women is a book for those who know what it means to be held back or pushed down. This is a book about women who have struggled out of the grasp of those who attempt to hold them back, who have kept moving forward, women who have gotten up repeatedly after being pushed down, women who have clenched their fists and said, "I'm still here. I still matter."
This is the best book I've read this year. Kudos to Susan Straight.