Book Review: An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

image courtesy of amazon.com

 

I do not know how many times I have said this before or how many times I will say this again but Roxane Gay is my new favorite.

I picked up An Untamed State because my new favorite author wrote it, however I was unprepared for how much it would affect me.

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay is romantic, endearing, disturbing, and painfully raw all at once. Yes, all of those things. If you do not believe me, read the book.

Born in the US to Haitian immigrants, Mireille hears the stories of poverty and hard work from her parents. They describe a Haiti filled with poverty, sickness, and hardships. Mireille learns to love a Haiti filled with sunshine, beaches, and good times.

Brought up under the critical eye of her father, Mireille excels at everything, desperate to meet his impossible standards. She meets Michael and they fall in love despite the differences in their upbringings and culture. They live a fairy tale life in Miami, oblivious to everything but their love.

Mireille is kidnapped, snatched from the arms of her husband and family. She is plunged into a dark underworld where morality ceases to exist.  Mireille is introduced to a part of herself she never needed before, a part that will stop at nothing to survive.

She learns what happens when the have-nots have had enough.

An Untamed State is not always a pretty story and there are demons unearthed that are unable to crawl back into the closet. I had to put the back down multiple times, disgusted by what I was reading but also transfixed.

Intertwined with the horror are pieces of a love story, the coming together of two imperfect people struggling to make it work. You begin to fall in love with this couple, you want to root for them.  Then Roxane Gay plunges you back into Mireille’s nightmare. She has a gift not many possess, this ability to conjure a myriad of emotions within just a few pages. The glimpse into the mind of someone who is slowly going insane.

Mireille’s survival became my own and I had to remind myself to breathe. I love how Roxane Gay does not tie this story with a pretty bow, the characters stripped raw and left exposed.

It makes you wonder, what would you do?

Have you read this book, what did you think?

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Red Lipstick, natural hair, and self love

I thought turning thirty meant waking up possessing all the answers and regularly bending over for the world to kiss my ass because I was a Grown Woman.

I thought turning thirty meant finally releasing the demons plaguing me since childhood or outgrowing those pesky self-image issues.

Shit, I thought I would wake up one day and loving my natural hair would be as easy as loving anything with bacon…or avocado.

I still struggle with saying, “No.”

I still struggle with my self-image.

I definitely still struggle with these kinks and coils that refuse to behave. Continue reading

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Triple 7 Challenge

After reading Dara’s post here, I pretty much forced her to invite me in the challenge. Lol.

The Triple 7 Challenge is a fun challenge encouraging writers to share 7 lines of a Work in Progress from the 7th page, 7 lines down.

This excerpt is from a more recent WIP, something I have been playing around with.

I called my boyfriend, scarily calm. He was incredulous. “She told you via text message?”

My voice faltered a bit. There was a chance my mother might die, no matter how small the chance; it hovered over me like a black cloud..>. Continue reading

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When people pleasing goes wrong

I almost gave myself a mild panic attack over absolutely nothing.

I am a perpetual people pleaser and yesterday it reached new levels.

After a conversation that pretty much ruined my evening, I slept fitfully. I woke up exhausted with a persistent knot in the pit of my stomach. The familiar feeling of dread draped over my shoulders like an unwanted hand.

It refused to budge even after I arrived in my office and prayed silently.

I felt sick all day. The knot remained but was now accompanied with lightheartedness and nausea. I was literally sick to my stomach.

I wanted to talk about it. I wanted someone to tell me what do, tell me that I was not a bad person for wanting something for me..>. Continue reading

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What she sees in the night

I was very young when I first watched Nightmare on Elm Street.

I was asleep in the room I shared with my younger sister when I woke up screaming from a nightmare. I always yelled for my mother, but she didn’t always come.

This time she showed up, fatigued etched in her face and she snuggled with me in my bed. Before I settled in her warmth, I searched the room and I heard my mother’s voice,

“Don’t look for him.”

I saw him anyway, illuminated in the shape of a tiny doll on the dresser. I fell sleep as fast as I could, my only defense mechanism, a prayer in my throat.

I woke up screaming again, he was pulling my feet, dragging me away from my family into his personal hell.

I opened my eyes and he was standing menacingly at the foot of my bed. I screamed so loud my father stumbled in and then he disappeared while I was left crying and flailing my arms..>. Continue reading

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Overcoming my fear of public speaking

They forced me to take Speech class in high school, some nonsense about needing it to graduate.

Back then, I did not know my voice mattered. I tried to blend into the walls, so I could slip in and out unnoticed, unbothered.

Public speaking forced me in the limelight, under the watchful eyes of people who could not see past the exterior. They did not know that I could be funny and silly when I was completely at ease. Or that I loved to write stories about my dream life.  Or that I wanted big things to happen in my future.

All they saw was the tall, awkward girl who was painfully shy with the thick glasses and braces.

I saw in my usual seat, closest to the door, my heart pounding as I waited for the inevitable. I wiped my sweaty palms on my skirt and felt the first trickle of perspiration under my arms.>. Continue reading

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Black-ish and my struggle with being Haitian-ish

I watched the Season Premiere of Tracee Ellis Ross’ new show Black-ish on ABC and at first; I was not really feeling it.

It seemed a bit much. Too much obvious Black-centric jokes (grape soda, fried chicken—haven’t we heard all this before?).  I’m still getting used to  Anthony Anderson as the main character and how in 2014 a Black man can still question his bi-racial wife’s Blackness.

But.

Once you look past all that, I think Black-ish is onto something and because I love Tracee Ellis Ross, I will continue to watch. Just like, I watched her show with Malcolm Jamal Warner, Reed between the Lines before it disappeared.

I also realized I can actually relate because even though I grew up in a majority Black neighborhood, I was raised by Haitian parents.>. Continue reading

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Book Review: Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat

Image courtesy of amazon.com

 

Set in the fictional town of Ville Rose, the story opens on the morning of Claire Limye Lanme Faustin’s seventh birthday, also the anniversary of the death of her mother. This is also the same morning a local fisherman dies at sea, reminding the townspeople how thin the line between life and death really is.

Dressed in her customary pink muslin birthday dress, Claire and her father visit her late mother’s grave, their annual tradition, only this year Claire feels something different in the air.

Since the death of Claire’s mother, Nozias Faustin was well aware of his inability and lack of connections to properly raise a girl child into the world. He told his daughter countless times he was leaving pou cheche lavi (look for a better life) and to give her better opportunities than he had.>. Continue reading

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Back to the basics…

Skinny Black Girl posted something today that resonated with me.

I am not new to this blogging thing. After I was engaged in 2008, I started a blog on Blogger detailing the details of planning a wedding while a fulltime graduate student. I did not do it to gain followers and I was surprised when I amassed a few loyals. Around the same time, I joined the now defunct PNN site because they posted an advertisement for a writing opportunity and our interviews were our posts. PNN quickly became a tight knit community, rather than a hostile group of competitors. We posted daily, commented on each other’s posts etc. I cross-posted a few times and shared my wedding journey with my new friends. We even organized a small meet up in Philadelphia and I met these dynamic, encouraging women in the flesh. I am proud to say, we are all still cyber friends today.

When I started blogging at cakeandeggs, I did it initially because I wanted to build an audience. I wanted to throw my voice in the mix because my ultimate goal was to be a published author. I thought I could be transparent and write instead of going to therapy.>. Continue reading

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Lets play the “10 Books” game

I never participate in challenges on Facebook but I actually saw something similar on Writers Digest and thought I would try to compile a list of the ten books that have impacted me in some way.

It was actually really hard to make list. Every time I picked a book, another title popped in my head. I have to say that this is not an all-encompassing list. These are just the ten books I chose today, this month, this year. As you can see, I snuck in a few more titles.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay-I literally just finished this book. I am going to save my thoughts for the upcoming book review

Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill- I love historical fiction and this particular one was done really well, in my humble opinion. This was an accurate portrayal of slavery; it as heartbreaking and at times difficult to read. Read my review. Continue reading

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