Today, I will ask you to preorder The Shore by Sara Taylor (Bailey Prize Longlist 2015).
In three days, you will have a sea scape of time in your hands in the form of a book.
It will take you across generations, through twisted murders, plots of revenge by medicine woman, how women are courted two-hundred years from now after a sexually transmitted disease will act as population control, beg questions to women raised on the dotted line between high society and marshland due to their coloring, and ask the reader to fill in how a game of poker that becomes a dual rape and then becomes a marriage can produce children that are capable of knocking on the doors of strangers and explaining themselves.
Plot Twist Image (Creative Commons)This book is incredible. And although all the strings are not tied neatly with a bow by the end, just the act of having to answer the questions posed for myself was a book on its own. By the first chapter, I was hooked. The plot twist at the end of chapter one was enough to have me begging the universe for a chance to read before falling asleep flatly in bed. There’s so many strong women in this book, and not just strong because of their own intuition, but strong in the face of dirty hands. One of my students wrote an excellent slam poem this week, I wish I could share it all, but in it she says the following, “I was in the tenth grade when I realized I was a little too sensitive. That I didn’t need to cover my mouth when I laugh. Or agree with people who throw dirt on my name, because I now understand that those are the people with dirty hands and it will take more than just soap and water to fix the mess they have now made of themselves.”
There are people who will always be against women. They are the ones who only find strength in those who can lift cars, and not those who can lift hearts. This book is an argument against those people. It is words in a fictional universe that can debate those who don’t believe in equality among sexes.
“Chick Lit” (Creative Commons) Found @ chacha.comSometimes, as women, we get stuck between the place called “women’s fiction” and that place called “chick lit.” I really believe that the Bailey Prize (once the Orange Prize) is trying to adjust this slim shadow area where women are allowed to reside in fiction. There is just no place to rest in that crack on the shelf. Most people who read this blog do so because they have read a book that has changed them, made them view the other in new light, made them remove themselves from the shadows and step into their own golden flare, or read just simply to exist in a place that goes beyond their reality, I believe that women’s fiction deserves this sort of place. I believe it can fit on any shelf. I believe women have gone voiceless for many centuries and their time is just now beginning to sprout in fiction. I even believe, the blasphemous heathen that I am, that some famous “anonymous” writers or even writers that we praise for being so unadulteratedly manly, owned a coin purse (if you know what I mean by that).
The fact is, that women’s history hasn’t yet been fully told. It has not reached the deep cave of the mouth to be heard beyond a few whispered shuffles of polite feet behind armed men.
But this book. This book will break barriers and do so with small chunks of women’s lives. A moment, a pill of memoir (although fiction, but feels true in the carat that I keep my own womanhood) for each generation in a family that went silent to men until the last possible second. Even in the end, there is a character named Sally. In the beginning of the book, her grandfather gives the ultimatum to her and her brother, that one must stay on the island and take care of the shore house, one must remain distant from the mainland and focus their goals on maintaining a house that was never theres to begin with. Who must that be? The girl of course. The woman shoved on a shelf between pink covers and Water for Elephants. This book says girls have been stuck for too long.
Girls can render guns.
Girls can steal the things that build their father’s up.
Girls can fiercely protect.
Girls can stay behind and build bigger.
Girls can leave the island.
Girls can choose not to marry.
Girls can use herbs to preserve the original foundations of their bodies until a time when they want to use them as vessels.
Girls can learn a history of the other powerful girls behind them.
Girls can be leaders, not led.
I have no other real way to proceed with this review. This book is so hard to tie down like the women within it. There are so many stories and they have all stuck, or pieces of them, and organizing them into some logical progression is beyond my ability. I will warn you that for the first four or five chapters you will be trying to place the women on where they fall in the genealogical line. But don’t. It will come out in the wash. The blues of it will run clear.