Other Pr. Apr. 2022. 224p. tr. from French by Adriana Hunter. ISBN 9781635421019. pap. $16.99. F
From the first sentence, “It’s a girl,” to the final, “A girl’s wonderful,” this novel follows Laurence Barraqué’s journey from birth to motherhood. Born in 1959 as the second daughter of a doctor and his wife, Laurence quickly discovers what it means to be a member of the “second sex” in France; she must face not just difficulties in her parents’ marriage and her mother’s infidelity but sexual harassment and burdensome gender expectations that dictate her place in society. Eventually, Laurence becomes a mother herself and must cope with the loss of a child even as she raises a daughter who does not accept norms of female behavior. Prize-winning French novelist Laurens (Little Dancer Aged Fourteen) draws on events from her own life to describe the challenges faced not just by women but by men, showing that both sexes are governed by fear: women fear the violence of male domination, while men are afraid of not measuring up.
VERDICT However sparing her language, Laurens forcefully pulls readers into her world in a powerful work that successfully shows the societal pressures that shape women’s lives.
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