Book Review: “Girl, Woman, Other” by Bernadine Evaristo

by on January 17, 2020 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Halle Zander / Aspen Daily News / Jan. 17, 2020

While taking one of my first vacations in sunny San Diego, I popped into the corner bookstore in Ocean Beach [ed: Run for Cover bookstore] to pick out my next “Beach Read,” which apparently is its own genre now. In an effort to read more books by authors different from myself, I picked up “Girl, Woman, Other” by Bernadine Evaristo, a black, British woman with seven brothers and sisters.

The book follows 12 characters, 11 of which are women of color, in their journeys toward something elusive, be it a sense of purpose or the acceptance of a long lost family member. Evaristo sets the tone in her first chapter by exposing the life of the socially conscious, non-monogamous, anti-establishment playwright, Amma. Each of the following characters, I believe, serves as a response to Amma’s unique set of values.

Dominique is the hopeless romantic who, in the hypnosis of her admiration, fails to acknowledge her partner’s abuse. Ama’s daughter, Yaz, stretches her criticism of capitalism and gender norms wider while Carole claws her way out of poverty after an egregious assault.

One of the most relevant components of this story to younger generations may be the non-binary social media superstar who calls out injustice online. Their deeply loving and forgiving relationship with their grandmother may be the best example of respect and compassion in the entire novel, calling into question what it looks like to truly care for our family members as they age.

Each of the characters shows a different perspective on what may be considered a liberal counterculture, expanding the reader’s understanding of what it looks like to survive in a world of protest and perseverance. This is Evaristo’s eighth novel, which won the 2019 Booker Prize and made it on Barack Obama’s list of favorite books last year. If the concept of identity puzzles or intrigues you, or if you enjoy following a host of characters who rise and fall in the face of adversity, this may be your next best read.



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