April is coming to an end, and Earth day is today so much like our dear Earth won’t stop turning, out books recommendations won’t stop coming. Our picks of the week will help you enjoy this spring weather in a heavenly fashion as you relax with some of the hottest releases of the moment!
What do the three books we are presenting have one thing in common: nuance and complex storytelling in the realm of women, and female empowerment. Sounds exciting, right? Hopefully these books will be the perfect ones for you to enjoy a picnic with, to curl up with or, in the case of our Coffee Shop Read, to go out with.
So, without further ado, here are Bookstr’s Three to Read, the three books we’ve picked for you to read this week!
Women Talking by Miriam Toews
One evening, eight Mennonite women climb into a hay loft to conduct a secret meeting. For the past two years, each of these women, and more than a hundred other girls in their colony, has been repeatedly violated in the night by demons coming to punish them for their sins. Now that the women have learned they were in fact drugged and attacked by a group of men from their own community, they are determined to protect themselves and their daughters from future harm.
While the men of the colony are off in the city, attempting to raise enough money to bail out the rapists and bring them home, these women―all illiterate, without any knowledge of the world outside their community and unable even to speak the language of the country they live in―have very little time to make a choice: Should they stay in the only world they’ve ever known or should they dare to escape?
Based on real events and told through the “minutes” of the women’s all-female symposium, Toews’s masterful novel uses wry, politically engaged humor to relate this tale of women claiming their own power to decide.
Besides the rave reviews from The New York Times, The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, and Margaret Atwood herself who said that much of Women Talking “could be out [the world ] of The Handmaid’s Tale,” its themes of shedding light of the oppression of women—in an enlighting and poetic writing style will keep your eyes glued on the page! This is Miriam Towes’ sixth novel, (the same amount of novels as the great, Jane Austen!) And as prolific as she is, Towes’ writing is artistic, and poetic, her characters resonating with readers all over the world. Women Talking is an absolute must-read, and Towes’ hypnotic prose makes it all the more worthwhile.
You Must Not Miss by Katrina Leno
Magpie Lewis started writing in her yellow notebook the day after her family self-destructed. The day her father ruined her mother’s life. The day Eryn, Magpie’s sister, skipped town and left her to fend for herself. The day of Brandon Phipp’s party.Now Magpie is called a slut in the hallways of her high school, her former best friend won’t speak to her, and she spends her lunch period with a group of misfits who’ve all been as socially exiled as she has. And so, feeling trapped and forgotten, Magpie retreats to her notebook, dreaming up a magical place called Near.Near is perfect – a place where her father never cheated, her mother never drank, and Magpie’s own life never derailed so suddenly. She imagines Near so completely, so fully, that she writes it into existence, right in her own backyard. At first, Near is a peaceful escape, but soon it becomes something darker, somewhere nightmares lurk and hidden truths come to light. Soon it becomes a place where Magpie can do anything she wants…even get her revenge.You Must Not Miss is an intoxicating, twisted tale of magic, menace, and the monsters that live inside us all.
Katerina Leno’s You Must Not Miss is a brilliantly suspenseful story that explores themes of friendship, family, feminism and revenge, as well as fantasy. When she conjures up a world of her own called, Near, a place that was meant as an escape, Magpie’s dreams turn into a nightmare. Through Leno shows us that women are more nuanced than just being ‘polite,’ thanks to her creation of Magpie Lewis. Magpie experiences trauma of being bullied in her high school and turns that pain into a weapon. It is always refreshing to see women in fiction taking control of their out-of-control situation. This is the perfect book to fly through on your commute, or in your favorite coffee shop, as it will keep you absorbed right to the end.
The Book of Flora by Meg Ellison
In the wake of the apocalypse, Flora has come of age in a highly gendered post-plague society where females have become a precious, coveted, hunted, and endangered commodity. But Flora does not participate in the economy that trades in bodies. An anathema in a world that prizes procreation above all else, she is an outsider everywhere she goes, including the thriving all-female city of Shy.
Now navigating a blighted landscape, Flora, her friends, and a sullen young slave she adopts as her own child leave their oppressive pasts behind to find their place in the world. They seek refuge aboard a ship where gender is fluid, where the dynamic is uneasy, and where rumors flow of a bold new reproductive strategy.
When the promise of a miraculous hope for humanity’s future tears Flora’s makeshift family asunder, she must choose: protect the safe haven she’s built or risk everything to defy oppression, whatever its provenance.
This novel will rock your world, with the amazing world contained within its pages. It is the final installment of Elison’s Road to Nowhere trilogy, and is told from the perspective of Flora, a transwoman raised as a sex slave. Kirkus Reviews notes that the books “tells her story from essentially two points of view: as an old woman writing her autobiography after many years of residence on Bambritch (Bainbridge) Island near Settle (Seattle) as an invasion looms; and as a younger woman continuing the plot from The Book of Etta (2017), sprinkled with memories of her difficult childhood and adolescence.”
A feminist dystopia unlike the others, Ellison explores themes of feminism, LGBTQ+ people’s rights, women’s rights, the commodification and governmental control of women’s bodies through the lens of expertly crafted dystopia, and a brilliant protagonist in Flora. Meg Elison is a talent, and this book is proof of that, no doubt about it! Elison, an LGBTQ+ writer and essayist and was a long-time columnist and editor for the award-winning Daily Californian at Berkeley, who lists Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Oscar Wilde, Stephen King among her many influences. Publishers Weekly and Booklist have praised the book, along with Kirkus Reviews who called it “A thoughtful extrapolation of contemporary gender and sexuality issues in need of wider discussion and understanding.”