Review: Women Talking - Miriam Toews

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Title: Women Talking

Author: Miriam Toews

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Release Date: 21 August 2018

Pages: 240

My Rating: ★★★★

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“We are not members, … We are commodities…. When our men have used us up so that we look sixty when we’re thirty and our wombs have literally dropped out of our bodies onto our spotless kitchen floors, finished, they turn to our daughters.”

Wow. Just wow. I have so many thoughts about this novel that there aren’t enough words - or, rather, not the right words - to describe it perfectly.

Women Talking is a fictional novel, but it is important to remember while reading that it is based on very real events that occurred in Bolivia during the 2000s. In the fictionalized version of these events, a group of Mennonite women gather in a barn loft to discuss their next steps after discovering that they have all been drugged and raped by the men of their community. Now, in the wake of these horrors, they face a decision: do they run, do nothing, or stay and fight?

The story focuses on the debate among the women, which is transcribed by August, a man who has been re-admitted into the colony after his family was excommunicated. As they discuss their options, you start to uncover some of the traumatic after-effects that the women have faced due to these attacks. It’s horrific and terrifying, seeing these women have to literally fight for their survival. None of these women have been taught how to read, or write, or even speak the language of their native country. Outside of the community, they are completely lost.

I can’t even begin to say how deeply this book affected me. I had honestly no idea how hard this book was going to hit me - although, going off the description, I knew it was going to be a difficult read. Thankfully, the book is only 240 pages so it was easier to manage because definitely some of the content is hard to read. It’s so awful to read about the ordeals of these women, some of whom think that they have no other option than to obey the men of their community - the same men who have drugged and raped them and their daughters - because they have no options or even education. My heart was aching for them, as well as the women who went through the real experience years ago.

If you’ve been on the fence about getting this book, here’s your sign: go buy it. It’s well worth the read and will definitely get your mind running. It’s interesting (and scary) to try to put yourself in their shoes while you read. What would you do if it were you in their place?

Felicia x

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