Review: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Synopsis:
This is Britain as you’ve never read it.
This is Britain as it has never been told.
From the top of the country to the bottom, across more than a century of change and growth and struggle and life, Girl, Woman, Other follows twelve very different characters on an entwined journey of discovery.
It is future, it is past. It is fiction, it is history.
It is a novel about who we are now.

I’ve learned to be sceptical when I pick up a book as highly regarded as Girl, Woman, Other, mainly because I tend to overhype them in my head and end up feeling disappointed (e.g. I think I’m the only person on the planet who didn’t love Where the Crawdads Sing.)

Girl, Woman, Other is the 2019 Booker Prize winner, has been shortlisted for the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction and has a 4.5/5 average rating on Goodreads. That’s very high praise indeed and, once you’ve finished the book, it’s not hard to see why.

Telling the story of twelve unique and insightful characters with incredible, heart-wrenching journeys, Girl, Woman, Other is nothing short of a modern masterpiece and truly represents everything great about contemporary fiction. Reading is a fundamental tool in helping us to understand the lives and experiences of others and this novel achieves this and then some. It’s a wonderful compilation of voices, covering various timescales and giving a truly comprehensive look into the lives of people of colour in Britain.

I loved the structure of the book, which essentially appears as twelve short stories that are dynamic and beautiful in equal measure. Bernardine Evaristo’s feminist voice is powerful, yet poignant throughout and she strikes the perfect balance between vibrant and vulnerable. The exploration of identity is what makes this book so special – every character is looking to find themselves in what is essentially a racist, patriarchal world. The entire concept makes for an expressive and powerful book that is truly stunning from start to finish.

A lot of people appear to be reading Girl, Woman, Other at the moment, which is amazing – Bernardine Evaristo deserves all the success in the world. Most of the reviews I’ve seen have been overwhelmingly good, although some have suggested that the grammar was off-putting. I loved the writing style, albeit after struggling with it initially, because I felt like it added another dimension to the book. I can see why some may have trouble with it, but I think the purpose was to highlight that these twelve stories will disrupt everything we think we know about living in modern-day Britain.

I loved all twelve voices but if I was going to pick my favourite, I’d have to say Bummi’s chapter was one that stuck with me because it was just so honest and endearing, particularly when discussing Bummi’s hardships and some of the decisions she made. I found everything about Bummi to be completely compelling and very authentic.

The epilogue was also fantastic and the perfect ending to a remarkable book. The final few words were a stunning way to articulate what is going on across the world right now:
“This is not about feeling something or speaking words.
This is about being
together.”

If you haven’t read Girl, Woman, Other yet, you should seriously add it your TBR pile – you won’t regret it. A well-deserved 5 stars from me!

Goodreads rating – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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