It’s hard for me to find words surrounding the collection of essays in this book from many different and equally important voices. This book – a collection of essays compiled by Roxane Gay – chronicles real life stories surrounding rape, sexual assault, rape culture, and ultimately how our society frames the experiences of many who suffer at the hands of these experiences as “not that bad” – pervasive cultural and societal minimization in experiences that are horrifying and inexcusable.
This book left me in tears through different points in the read; it’s raw, heartbreaking, sometimes depressing, but ultimately there’s freedom from having these stories in the open to be discussed and digested. I had to take breaks in reading the audiobook because the pain and the experiences of them aren’t too far from my own as a woman of color and from my own life experiences, but ultimately I’m glad I heard them. I honestly wish this book had existed sooner than this, wish that every single person could read this and understand how pervasive and prevalent these stories are, how many of them don’t even get the chance to be told. I’ve heard snippets of some stories here before the compilation (such as Ally Sheedy and Gabrielle Union’s pieces), but many of them were new to me and introduced me to a range of voices from different cultures, races, gender identities, sexual orientations, among other communities. Ultimately, it’s a book I would return to for reference and recommendation to others – not just for the social commentary but also for the strength, honesty, and potency of each person’s story.
Overall score: 5/5 stars.