Published: August 5, 2014
Source: Personal Copy (Audible)
A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation, Roxane Gay.
“Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.”
In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.
This is another review that is tricky because it took me so long to get through this audiobook. This time, however, I actually have a very good reason. I knew this was not a book that I could play around my kids, so I listened to this almost entirely while I was working out. In fact, there were a few times that it was the reason I did work out! I think that Roxane Gay would appreciate this--or she might die laughing over it. She did state at least a few times in this book how much she hated to work out.
But, here is the one thing I can say that will totally sum up my feelings of this book: THERE WAS A CHAPTER ABOUT SWEET VALLEY HIGH! Yes, Sweet Valley High! I loved those books when I was tween--I'm still a little nostalgic about them and so is Roxane Gay. If for no other reason, I would recommend this book. But don't worry, it's not the only reason (she also has a great essay criticizing Fifty Shades of Grey in the most fantastic way possible).
There are also some very serious issues addressed here--the treatment of women and minorities, the double standards in our society, and why The Help isn't quite the movie I thought it would be. My views on women are pretty much in line with hers, but I was especially interested in her essays on race. I don't consider myself a racist by any means, but her essays opened my eyes on how I really don't quite understand the issues that minorities, African-Americans in particular, face. I can't think of anyone else who could discuss these in such a clear way as Roxane Gay and, because of this book, I am trying to look at these issues in a new light.
This is also a book that I'm going to have to get a hard copy of and re-read. There are some very powerful ideas that I wasn't able to note while I was listening on the elliptical. I'm also very selective about the books that make it into my "permanent library," but I will make room for this book once I get a copy.
I believe this is the first non-fiction book I've listened to that was not read by the author. I was afraid this might be a problem for me, but I was extremely impressed with the narrator, Bahni Turpin. In fact, during the time I was listening to this book, I heard an interview with Roxane Gay on the Dear Sugar podcast and she just didn't sound like herself--or how I now think she sounds. As an aside, I ended up listening to two books narrated by Bahni Turpin at the same time--this book and The True Meaning of Smeck Day with my kids. Both audiobooks are over 10 hours in length, but it wasn't until I had less than 2 hours left in both books that I realized it was the same narrator! I think that is a testament to what an effective narrator she is.
I won't say that I recommend this book in audio over print or vice versa--I think it is a great work in both mediums. It is definitely a book for anyone interested in women's or racial studies.
I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.