Girl: A Novel

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The difficult landscape and the harrowing terror of the abduction of young girls in Nigeria by Boko Haram serve as the foundation for Edna O’Brien’s latest book, Girl: A Novel. Not for the faint of heart, the book chronicles in vivid and sickening detail the tragedies suffered by one character, Maryam, whose first line reads “I was a girl once, but not anymore.”

While Maryam’s story is not universal—the novel makes it clear that her fate is not as bad as the fates of others—it is singular. At different turns, O’Brien offers small glimpses into the lives of other women, but it is Maryam’s story that ties the book together. When she is abducted from her school alongside other girls, Maryam hopes and prays to be returned to her family. These prayers, and so many others, are conflicted and confused as she escapes her tormenters only to be returned to a world that views her as tainted.

In equal measure, the book questions how we can support those who survive if we do not condemn those responsible for the cruelty the survivors suffered. Maryam’s story, so specific to Nigeria and Boko Haram, is analogous to victim blaming and the oppression of women worldwide. While Girl is a brilliant and unflinching novel, it may be difficult for some readers given the graphic depictions of violence within it.

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Author Edna O'Brien
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 240 pages
Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publish Date 2020-Oct-15
ISBN 9780374162559
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue January 2021
Category Popular Fiction


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