Book Reviews for You: Difficult Women By Roxane Gay

Reading Time: 2 minutes

“Every time that man sank his fists into my body, I could breathe a little. I used one hurt to cover another.”

Difficult Women is a collection of six short stories written by award-winning author Roxane Gay. The stories were written so that we may understand the harsh realities women endure daily. It begins with I Will Follow You, a story of sisters –Carolina and Savvie – and how their relationship develops after a tragic incident. The sisters are kidnapped at a young age, and they endure six weeks of maltreatment at the hands of a stranger.

The Mark of Cain tells a story of two brothers; one brother abuses his wife, while the other treats his sister-in-law, the abused wife, with love and compassion. It is a story of love and passion and effectively builds sympathy for the abuser’s wife. Gay’s prose haunts the reader’s mind.

Difficult Womenis the third story and is indicative of what women might feel as they walk down the streets alone at night, or how they sometimes think twice before wearing short skirts or tank-tops. Gay brings a unique humor to balance the terrible things that take place within the pages: rape, abuse, infidelity and all forms of disrespect toward women.

La Negra Blanca is about a woman named Sarah. She studies international relations at John Hopkins University, and strips to pay for it. The reader follows Sarah during her shifts at the club. There she meets William, a regular at La Negra Blanca. Throughout this story, the reader sees William’s obsession with Sarah grow. This story explores the sinister notion that if a woman dresses provocatively, or strips for living, she is free for the taking. Nothing is further from the truth. If a woman says no, that means no.

The final story isBreak All the Way Down. The reader follows an unnamed woman who is given a baby. It is her boyfriend Ben’s youngest child from another relationship. Ben is an alcoholic who loves his booze just as much as he loves bruising his unnamed partner. It is a gut-wrenching story where each passage will bring tears of shock and agony. The woman’s bruises and pain are blanketed by more bruises and pain.

Overall, this book nears perfection. Roxane Gay is risingin her literary talent to shine a light on the dark reality of life walking in the shoes of women and all that they bear