shut up about the decade!!; 1.1.20

Maybe now that we’re finally in the 20s, we can stop talking about them!!

But keep talking about books!

This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor – Susan Wicklund

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This book starts powerfully, with Wicklund nervously preparing to tell her grandmother about her work as an abortion provider. Her “confession” sparks one from her grandmother, a harrowing story of life when reproductive care wasn’t merely inaccessible, but not even spoken of. With that framing, Wicklund goes back to the beginning of her story, detailing how she became an abortion doctor and the challenges and joys of her career. She describes the exhaustion, the difficult decisions, and the nightmarish harassment from anti-abortion activists (including stalking and death threats). It’s a pretty straightforward, no-frills memoir, with some historical context filling out Wicklund’s personal story. There were a couple of instances in which Wicklund expressed a bit of judginess towards patients whose choices she disagreed with, which made me uncomfortable, but on the whole I’m glad I read it.

TW: references to rape and incest

An Offer from a Gentleman – Julia Quinn

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Con: there is very little Colin in this book
Pro: we do get to know Lady Bridgerton and the other Bridgerton girls a bit more, and they seem much more sensible and interesting than Daphne
Con: Benedict

As you may remember, my experience with the Bridgerton books has resembled a rollercoaster, with a thumbs-down for the first and a thumbs-up for the second. And this one……is also a thumbs-down for me. Lots of romance novels start on terms that are perhaps not conducive to a healthy relationships–blackmail, entrapment, mutual loathing, etc. And I can get into that! The fun is seeing how a skilled writer can take those circumstances and make them something engaging that we feel good about rooting for. And while Quinn is certainly a skilled, engaging writer…I did not feel good about rooting for this pairing, and was in fact rooting for Sophie to get away from Benedict.

The story of the second-eldest Bridgerton and Sophie Beckett, the illegitimate daughter of a count (? I don’t remember), starts as a fairly straight-forward Cinderella retelling, with a heavy emphasis on love at first sight, which doesn’t really do it for me. The story then flashes-forward, to Benedict rescuing Sophie from an attempted rape and then not realizing she’s the mysterious woman he danced with two years ago The two discover a mutual attraction, but Sophie is a servant and determined not to be Benedict’s mistress, which he doesn’t take particularly well. Halfway through the book, AFTER he’s decided he simply can’t live without her, Benedict decides to blackmail Sophie. How sexy and fun! As I mentioned up top, stories about blackmail aren’t out of the question for me, but they need to be before the characters are in love, part of the seemingly impossible circumstances the couple is trying to overcome.

So…yeah. If I wasn’t already halfway in love with Colin, who mercifully gets the next book, I would consider quitting the series, but…..COLIN.

TW: attempted rape, also Quinn still seems to have some weird weight/appearance stuff happening? ugh.

Bunny – Mona Awad

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Samantha Mackey, our narrator and protagonist, is lonely and frustrated in her MFA fiction writing program. She has writer’s block, her advisor is avoiding her, and oh right, the other members of her cohort are four sickly-sweet, sycophantic women who all call each other ‘Bunny.’ She has one friend outside of the program, but she spends most of her time in claustrophobic workshops, talking at length about “The Body,” among other MFA buzzwords. But then she’s invited to join the clique, and everything changes, by which I mean SHIT GOES ABSOLUTELY WILD.

The amount of times I screeched or gutturally whispered, “fucking WHAT” while reading this probably can’t be quantified in human numbers. Just a heads up, this book gets gory, but in a very prettified way? It has a very unique tone, and unique relationship to ~reality~, which took awhile for me to adjust to. If you’re a “fairytales made dark” person, this is DEFINITELY the book for you, and if you aren’t this book might turn you into one. Awad’s language and imagery are incredibly rich and I hope she keeps writing more fucked-up stories for me to read. (She’s also written another novel called 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, which I haven’t read yet but have heard great things about.)

If, like me, you get to the end of this and IMMEDIATELY need to hear people talk about it, this episode of The Librarian Is In discusses it in spoilery detail, and also Maris Kreizman interviewed Mona Awad on The Maris Review, which isn’t spoilery but which I definitely understood more after having read the book.


Okay! I hope no one tries to engage you in Decade Discourse!!

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