Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Review: WOMEN ON THE BRINK stories by G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

“I know, I know. This isn’t what journaling is supposed to be about. Here I am defacing these pretty pages with all this whining. Whining. You’re supposed to process your feelings with your writing; that’s what the how-to journal books say. Whatever. My feelings say my life sucks right now.” (151)

Dedicated to “anyone who ever dreamed of running away,” Women on the Brink is just what it says—it’s about women stepping out on the ledge and facing the high altitudes of the world.  

In these stories, we learn of the quiet strength and resilience of women. Whether it be from depression, boredom, sadness, or hormones, we just don’t find the fulfillment and, therefore, do not feel the happiness.

In “Skydancer,” a woman battles with her motherly instincts and a wailing child. After all, “an animal didn’t require the commitment of a lifetime. A lifetime.” (18)

“She’d known him a while by then, but only as his pilot, bringing him out to base camp and back, and that night she imagined climbing mountains, or trekking through jungles, or flying off to sunny beaches with him. She’d turned her head and looked out at the sideways snow and listened to the moaning wind, and she’d wondered why she wasn’t enjoying his touch, his sex. She’d been anxious for it to end, so that, after he left her bed, she would have her body to herself again, to hibernate for the rest of the year inside her soft, warm clothes...” (19)

“She was too upset to think, right now, about where the abandonments of her past and the responsibilities of her future might lead.” (26)

“Float Away” is told in the perspective of a young 13-year old girl branded with a school nickname; she “was a mutt without a history.” (48)

“Something about turning in that [library] card made my eyes fill up. Or maybe it was that suggestion about there being no happy endings for girls.” (50) If only she could follow the river like Huckleberry Finn.

“Like today, I’d been in bed with a bad case of what I called the alligators, those dark thoughts that swarmed about, closing in, snapping their big sharp teeth at me, much like they had been today. I had never told anyone about these feelings, or the way I thought of them metaphorically as primordial reptiles. They’d think I really was loony. But I knew I wasn’t. Just as Sylvia Plath described her own depression as an owl’s talon clenching her heart, my dark thoughts reminded me of alligators.” (73)

“Girls Against Perfection” is a testament to our inner beauty and general humanity.  It goes to show that raw potential and special talents are hidden beneath layers of blemished flaws (i.e. fat, dark skin, ratty clothes, etc.)

Of course, I enjoyed some more than others. For example, I didn’t think reading poetry to a crazed patient was helping much. While some were rich in balanced detail, others dragged on and on. I did wonder why they were sectioned off by seasons though (I didn’t think that was too relevant.)

Poetic and well-versed, these tales reveal the true endurance of woman, as deep, poignant, and lovely as can be. And, yes, written words are therapy.

My rating: 3.5 stars

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