Everybody: A Book about Freedom

Norton. May 2021. 368p. ISBN 9780393608779. $26.95. SOC SCI
Like Sonya Renee Taylor’s The Body Is Not an Apology and other books that build on Audre Lorde’s foundational ideas about embodiment and social justice, Laing’s (The Lonely City) new book reminds us of the ways in which our persistent attempts to detach ourselves from our bodies creates systems that exploit individuals based on their perceived value within economies that privilege narratives of white, cisgender, heterosexual success. Laing takes a theoretical and historical approach to bodily integrity that examines gay rights, sexual liberation, feminism, and the civil rights movement, all of which she anchors in her own situated knowledge and lived experiences. The author dedicates the book to “bodies in peril,” from individuals impacted by the European migrant crisis of 2015, to everyone impacted by COVID-19. It’s a statement that showcases the balance that runs throughout this book, with a recognition of how vulnerable we are, especially when our bodies belong to categories treated as disposable.
VERDICT There are moments in this book that may feel too theoretical; yet, when Laing explores and expresses the ways in which our bodies are full of power, she offers a form of support we could all use more of as we navigate our own bodies and relearn what it means to value them. This is worthwhile, reflective reading.
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