I loved this book so much that it inspired me to start my book review journal and subsequently, this blog! Immediately after I finished Girl, Woman, Other I felt like I needed somewhere to note down and keep a record of just how amazing, how wonderful this book is. Now here we are!
At first glance, the lack of punctuation in Girl, Woman, Other was off-putting, especially to an English teacher, but from the very first sentence, with its complete disregard for the rules of punctuation, I was hooked. The poetic prose gives the serious themes in the novel a lightness that really immersed me in the story. It was as if I was walking the streets of London with Amma (the first of many narrators in the story) or keeping a ruly class of British teenagers in check with Shirley and Penelope.
Often, I find books with multiple narrators to be frustrating, wanting more from each character and feeling that the author has moved on too quickly. But I never felt this way while reading Girl, Woman, Other. Of the twelve narrators in this book, not once did I wish a chapter would end but also, never did I feel that Evaristo had taken a character away too soon. The characters are all linked in some way to each other which made it seem as though you were never truly leaving a character behind as you moved on to the next. Each narrator brought something new to the story, every single one of them was a revelation about the experience of what it is to be black and female in contemporary UK.
It’s an absolute masterpiece about what it is to be a woman; Evaristo made it almost as if it doesn’t matter where or in what time period a girl, woman (or other) is born, she can survive, even thrive, in any situation life may throw at her.
I read this book from the perspective of an Australian, who had spent time in the UK teaching English, which meant that I could picture places and people that Evaristo described. But, even if you’ve never stepped foot in the UK, this book is still for everyone.
It’s not just a great novel in terms of plot or character, although it is a character-driven, stream of consciousness piece of literary magic, it also has something to say about gender, race and identity which is what makes it such a powerful and moving novel. It’s a Booker Prize winner for a reason and my favourite read of the year so far.
I gave this book 5/5 wonderful, shining stars.