We Were Witches

Author: Ariel Gore

Published: September 5, 2017

Publisher: Feminist Press

Where I picked up my book: Library

Key Words: witchy, feminism, poverty, young motherhood, resistance

My Rating: 5 star

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Spurred on by nineties “family values” campaigns and determined to better herself through education, a teen mom talks her way into college. Disgusted by an overabundance of phallocratic narratives and Freytag’s pyramid, she turns to a subcultural canon of resistance and failure. Wryly riffing on feminist literary tropes, it documents the survival of a demonized single mother figuring things out.

My Thoughts:

I couldn’t love this book anymore if I tried! I’m not sure if I missed the hype when it first came out, or if it didn’t get the hype it deserved-but jeeeeze it hit every.single.one. of my bookish (and real life) love languages and more.

First, the blending of magical realism, memoir, fiction, non-fiction, fairy tale and feminist history had me jumping up and down (literally) and whooping with excitement at other times. I was never quite sure if I was reading about Ariel Gore’s life or not, but it didn’t even matter because the sentiment was the same either way. I’m not sure I can even find other novels with this blend of genres, but I’ll forever be on the hunt now.

Second, give me anything feminist and witchy and I just immediately feel more empowered, stronger, and ready to take on whatever stands in my way. Do you ever feel that way? Maybe after attending a rally in your city, or after listening to a feminist politician online? Or when your feminist friends gather to figure out how we will overtake the world? Well…take that feeling and imagine it embracing you throughout the entire reading of this novel. I was full of goosebumps ready to tackle the world, and with midterm elections happening today (!!), I was in an even stronger formation than ever.

Third, it brought up all of these feelings that I have about motherhood that I’m not even sure I knew I had. Or at least feelings that I had tucked down pretty deep into my soul. I do not have children, and as a lesbian, it’s a serious choice I’ve had to think about over and over again for so many years. There aren’t ‘accidental pregnancies’ in my world, but there are invasive ways to get to pregnancy, expensive pregnancies and anxiety-ridden decisions about pregnancies – well…for me all of this is true. My wife and I have decided not to naturally have a child, but it was an agonizing road to get to this decision, and I still second guess our decision, practically daily. All of this is to say-reading about someone care for her child and raise her child in such a loving, nurturing, protective and empowering way, despite all the difficulties that surround this parenthood-well…let’s just say my wife and I had another ‘did we make the right decision’ talk. I think we did, but to see someone love a child this much made me second guess that decision but also to just simply see how beautiful motherhood and raising a child can be, despite all odds. oh, and every time she read to her at night, from one feminist theory books for school, my heart nearly thumped out of my chest. It was beautiful.

I could go on and on about this book…but I just highly suggest heading to your local bookstore and picking it up. It is easily on my top 10 books of 2018 and I promise you, if you’re anything like me, your life will be forever changed after reading it.

 

 

Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft

Editors: Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe

Published: August 28, 2018

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Where I picked up my book: Free from publisher (THANK YOU)

Key Words: witches and witchcraft, feminism, LGBTQ+, YA fantasy

My Rating: 5 stars

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

A young adult fiction anthology of 15 stories featuring contemporary, historical, and futuristic stories featuring witchy heroines who are diverse in race, class, sexuality, religion, geography, and era.

Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

Glinda the Good Witch. Elphaba the Wicked Witch. Willow. Sabrina. Gemma Doyle. The Mayfair Witches. Ursula the Sea Witch. Morgan le Fey. The three weird sisters from Macbeth.

History tells us women accused of witchcraft were often outsiders: educated, independent, unmarried, unwilling to fall in line with traditional societal expectations.

Bold. Powerful. Rebellious.

A bruja’s traditional love spell has unexpected results. A witch’s healing hands begin to take life instead of giving it when she ignores her attraction to a fellow witch. In a terrifying future, women are captured by a cabal of men crying witchcraft and the one true witch among them must fight to free them all. In a desolate past, three orphaned sisters prophesize for a murderous king. Somewhere in the present, a teen girl just wants to kiss a boy without causing a hurricane.

From good witches to bad witches, to witches who are a bit of both, this is an anthology of diverse witchy tales from a collection of diverse, feminist authors. The collective strength of women working together—magically or mundanely–has long frightened society, to the point that women’s rights are challenged, legislated against, and denied all over the world. Toil & Trouble delves deep into the truly diverse mythology of witchcraft from many cultures and feminist points of view, to create modern and unique tales of witchery that have yet to be explored.

My Thoughts:

Gay witches. Enough said. Read the book. Okay…maybe I have a little bit more to say. But really, you might not need any more than that. If you find yourself wanting a bit more…read on 😉

I absolutely loved this book! A group of women writers decided to get together and write a little bit of magic (pun intended) with this one and it’s truly amazing! It’s a YA collection of short stories (although if you’re not usually into YA, do not be turned off at all. It’s nothing like typical YA that I have read. Without a doubt, it’s for readers of all ages) that covers stories about magic, witches, feminism, diversity, empowerment, sexuality, diversity, queerness and so much more. What?! I know…run to your local Indie and pick it up today!

Although I loved all of the stories, my favorite one, by far, was Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May. Ohhh it was so good, that I cried throughout the reading and immediately re-read it the second I finished. It was powerful, heartfelt, relatable, and touched something in me that reminded me of how much I love my life and how proud I feel for being who I am despite what other people may think. It was one of those sort of pieces. In fact, so many of the stories touched me personally.

As a lesbian, I sometimes feel a little witchiness in me and society, my family, the church, politicians, or anyone else be damned…I will thrive. So when I watch, read, or hear anything about people being on the outskirts of the ‘norm’ of society and feeling shunned for it, my guard immediately goes up and I go into defense mode. Be it witches, cultures from other parts of the world, people of color, LGBTQ+, women, people with disabilities, etc. I become protective, ready to strap on my marching boots and pull those people in a little bit tighter around me, so we can shield each other and stand up for one another as a good army should. That’s exactly the same feeling I got when reading this collection. I felt myself wanting to scream from the rooftops…OKAY PEOPLE, LET’S GET INTO FORMATION. That doesn’t happen often when I’m reading a book, but when it does…I get the chills because I know I’m reading something special.

Overall, this is one of the best short story collections that I have read and I highly suggest grabbing yourself a copy! I couldn’t put it down. It’s out now and would make a perfect gift for the witch, women, gay or feminist in your life…or for the person living beside one 🙂

Grab your copy HERE

bookishfolk…read instead.

The Female Persuasion

Author: Meg Wolitzer

Published: April 3, 2018

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Where I picked up my book: Library

Key Words: Feminism, Adult Fiction, Coming of Age story

My Rating: 4 stars

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Greer Kadetsky is a shy college freshman when she meets the woman she hopes will change her life. Faith Frank, dazzlingly persuasive and elegant at sixty-three, has been a central pillar of the women’s movement for decades, a figure who inspires others to influence the world. Upon hearing Faith speak for the first time, Greer- madly in love with her boyfriend, Cory, but still full of longing for an ambition that she can’t quite place- feels her inner world light up. And then, astonishingly, Faith invites Greer to make something out of that sense of purpose, leading Greer down the most exciting path of her life as it winds toward and away from her meant-to-be love story with Cory and the future she’d always imagined.

Charming and wise, knowing and witty, Meg Wolitzer delivers a novel about power and influence, ego and loyalty, womanhood and ambition. At its heart, The Female Persuasion is about the flame we all believe is flickering inside of us, waiting to be seen and fanned by the right person at the right time. It’s a story about the people who guide and the people who follow (and how those roles evolve over time), and the desire within all of us to be pulled into the light.

My Thoughts:

First, what I loved about this book…It is definitely a relevant book right now with women’s rights being at the forefront of our society and media, what is currently happening in our political climate, and the “me too” movement sweeping the nation where women are feeling the power to stand up to the misogyny and abuse that they we have experienced for so many years. It feels like a powerful time and as a women, I am so proud to stand up and be a part of it. So when books are written with these themes, it make me feel like we are being heard, people are talking, and things are changing-so…give.me.all.the.books! Second, I always love books that look at people from different generations and compare and contrast them. In this book, Greer (the main protagonist) and Faith (Greer’s mentor) deal with their feminism and the idea that they are both fighting the good fight, but they are coming at it from two different generations-which is not only an issue for them, but I think rings soooo true for feminists today. I see it all the time with friends and family older than me, and I also see it in women younger than me too. We come at feminism in quite different ways, and although we are all truly fighting the good fight, we have so much to learn from each other, and this book definitely deals with that. Third, I LOVE when characters are flawed…and these characters, all of them, are just that. People are flawed, I am certainly flawed, so give me real characters and I’m sold. This definitely happened in The Female Persuasion.

With that said, I definitely struggled with one major thing throughout the book. To me, it seemed as though Wolitzer had a list of current topics that she wanted to cover and subtopics she wanted to include in her novel, and as she included them within the narrative, she checked them off and moved on to the next. It felt jam-packed full of subjects and talking points, each wedged into the narrative, and instead of delving into each idea a bit more, it was mentioned, checked off, and moved on from. I would have liked to see a bit more insight into each of these major topics, so readers could gain a better understanding of what is going on in the real world-to me, that’s when the real learning happens.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Female Persuasion.  I think it would make a fantastic book club choice where the readers take the topics Wolitzer brings up and really gets into the nitty gritty.