March is Women’s History Month, and I’m choosing to focus my reading this month on books written by or about women, and I’m really excited that most of them happen to be selections from my most highly anticipated list as well! My fellow bloggers at Literary Quicksand and the TBR Mix ‘n’ Mingle are also planning to recognize women in their selections, so please stop by the linkup and see what they’re reading.
Without further ado, please check out what I’m reading this month:
Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray
Billed as The Mothers meets An American Marriage, this debut sounds incredible. And, even though I’ve been anxiously awaiting this book since late last year, I canceled my library hold once I found out I’ll be getting a copy in the March Health Tea Book Crate. Here’s hoping it gets delivered soon!
The Butler family has had their share of trials—as sisters Althea, Viola, and Lillian can attest—but nothing prepared them for the literal trial that will upend their lives.
Althea, the eldest sister and substitute matriarch, is a force to be reckoned with and her younger sisters have alternately appreciated and chafed at her strong will. They are as stunned as the rest of the small community when she and her husband Proctor are arrested, and in a heartbeat the family goes from one of the most respected in town to utter disgrace. The worst part is, not even her sisters are sure exactly what happened.
As Althea awaits her fate, Lillian and Viola must come together in the house they grew up in to care for their sister’s teenage daughters. What unfolds is a stunning portrait of the heart and core of an American family in a story that is as page-turning as it is important.
*Women Talking by Miriam Toews
Though this novel is based on real events, its description reminds me of a feminist dystopia (my favorite genre). I’ve had this book from NetGalley for a while now, and I’m really looking forward to diving into it this month.
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.
*The Farm by Joanne Ramos
This concept sounds vaguely like Perfect Little World meets The Handmaid’s Tale. The reviews of this one so far (it doesn’t come out until May) are hovering around 3.6 stars on Goodreads, so I’m hoping for the best. Good or bad, I’m sure it will provide a lot of food for thought. And, either way, I’m a huge fan of the cover.
Nestled in the Hudson Valley is a sumptuous retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, private fitness trainers, daily massages--and all of it for free. In fact, you get paid big money--more than you've ever dreamed of--to spend a few seasons in this luxurious locale. The catch? For nine months, you belong to the Farm. You cannot leave the grounds; your every move is monitored. Your former life will seem a world away as you dedicate yourself to the all-consuming task of producing the perfect baby for your überwealthy clients.
Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines and a struggling single mother, is thrilled to make it through the highly competitive Host selection process at the Farm. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her own young daughter's well-being, Jane grows desperate to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she'll receive on delivery--or worse.
Heartbreaking, suspenseful, provocative, The Farm pushes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit to the extremes, and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.
A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum
I didn’t hesitate to order this debut novel as my February Book of the Month, and I’m actually surprised I haven’t read it already. I’ll definitely be making it a point to pick it up in March. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things!
Introducing a brave, new Arab-American voice, an unflinching debut novel that takes us inside a world where few of us have been before: the lives of conservative Arab women living in America.
In Brooklyn, eighteen-year-old Deya is starting to meet with suitors. Though she doesn’t want to get married, her grandparents give her no choice. History is repeating itself: Deya’s mother, Isra, also had no choice when she left Palestine as a teenager to marry Adam. Though Deya was raised to believe her parents died in a car accident, a secret note from a mysterious, yet familiar-looking woman makes Deya question everything she was told about her past. As the narrative alternates between the lives of Deya and Isra, she begins to understand the dark, complex secrets behind her fragile community.
Set in an America that may feel removed yet is all too close at hand, A Woman Is No Man is both a gripping page-turner and an intimate family portrait. Fans of The Kite Runner and Everything I Never Told You will be drawn to this powerful novel.
Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
We are reading this for my April book club, and the lady who recommended it loved it. I don’t know much about it, but I realized when it was chosen that it’s been on my Goodreads TBR for a while now. No time like the present!
Two Chinese-American sisters—Miranda, the older, responsible one, always her younger sister’s protector; Lucia, the headstrong, unpredictable one, whose impulses are huge and, often, life changing. When Lucia starts hearing voices, it is Miranda who must find a way to reach her sister. Lucia impetuously plows ahead, but the bitter constant is that she is, in fact, mentally ill. Lucia lives life on a grand scale, until, inevitably, she crashes to earth.
Miranda leaves her own self-contained life in Switzerland to rescue her sister again—but only Lucia can decide whether she wants to be saved. The bonds of sisterly devotion stretch across oceans—but what does it take to break them?
Everything Here Is Beautiful is, at its heart, an immigrant story, and a young woman’s quest to find fulfillment and a life unconstrained by her illness. But it’s also an unforgettable, gut-wrenching story of the sacrifices we make to truly love someone—and when loyalty to one’s self must prevail over all.
If you’re looking for other books to celebrate Women’s History Month, check out this list.
Are you reading any books by/about women this month? I’d love to hear which ones in the comments! Or, post your to-be-read list to our linkup below.
TBR Mix ‘n’ Mingle is hosted by Rachel at Never Enough Novels, Allison at My Novel Life, the other wonderful bloggers at Literary Quicksand, and myself. In the bookish community, TBR stands for “To Be Read,” but it can mean different things to different people; in fact, Book Riot has a wonderful post exploring all the possible definitions. To me, it just means a book I haven’t read but want to read eventually. We share our TBR Lists on the 1st of every month. We'd love for you to join us!
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*I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.