A Difficult Woman is a Woman who Knows Pain

Title: Difficult Women

Author: Roxane Gay

Genre: fiction feminism literary short stories

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Summary: Difficult Women by Roxane Gay is a collection of short stories that share the intimate thoughts of women who have complicated past, are in complicated situations and have complicated feelings.


Thoughts before reading the book: After reading Difficult Women I would say that a difficult woman is a woman who knows pain. Pain is the common theme that stood out to me that thread the women in this book together. Sometimes the pain is self-inflicted and other times the pain is sourced by society and others. Some of the women desired it and others were survivors of it.


Roxane Gay has such a talent for making you feel one with the characters. I felt their pain, passion and hurt. The women were diverse racially, economically, geographically and marital status.


The most memorable stories for me were I Will Follow You, Mark of Cain, Florida, La Negra Blanca, Baby Arm and North Country.


I Will Follow You shares the story of two sisters who are the definition of ride or die. The experience that cultivated the sisters' unbreakable bond was the result of pain from a pedophile from their youth.


Mark of Cain tells a story of a women who knew her husband and his twin brother would switch roles from time to time. Her husband was a source of physical abuse while his brother was the total opposite. This story ended way too fast for me! I still have so many questions and would love to hear how their story ended!


Florida gave different perspectives of women who lived in a gated community in Florida. Many of the women’s pain came from societal standards around image and status.


La Negra Blanca will stick with me because it was the hardest for me to get through. It told the story of a black woman who passed as white, was a stripper paying her way through school and who was assaulted by a male client from the strip club. The level of disrespect that he had for her, her body and her space was sickening.


Baby Arm told the story of a woman who received pleasure from pain. Her pain was self inflicting through her participation in an all girls fight club and through her sexual desires.


North Country is such a beautiful story of a woman who knew the pain of loss, but received unconditional love from a man named Magnus. I found this story so refreshing in a book that had so many dark stories.


- Maya & The Spine Down




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