Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Publication Date: May 17th, 2016
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: NonFiction, Memoir, Feminism, Body Image, Sexuality
Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible–like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you–writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but.
From a painfully shy childhood in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her big body and even bigger opinions; to her public war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes; to her struggle to convince herself, and then the world, that fat people have value; to her accidental activism and never-ending battle royale with Internet trolls, Lindy narrates her life with a blend of humor and pathos that manages to make a trip to the abortion clinic funny and wring tears out of a story about diarrhea.
With inimitable good humor, vulnerability, and boundless charm, Lindy boldly shares how to survive in a world where not all stories are created equal and not all bodies are treated with equal respect, and how to weather hatred, loneliness, harassment, and loss–and walk away laughing. Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps.
I say no to my own instinct to stay quiet.
I don’t know if you’ve kind of gotten this vibe from my reviews (who am I kidding, you probably have), but I’m a person who has an opinion on many things.
Just like Lindy West. It took me a good couple of chapters to realize that that’s exactly why I couldn’t seem to enjoy her ‘‘voice’’ at first. I liked what she was saying; I just didn’t like how she was saying it.
And then I realized that I didn’t like her tone because it was too… well, loud. Because I am loud, too, and it’s something that I, until recently, have tried my best to change. Because, when I talk about something that I strongly believe in, I talk about it passionately. So much that I come off as aggressive and arrogant oftentimes. Just like Lindy West. But, unlike Lindy West, it makes me sad.
This is Lindy West’s book. And we are very much aware of that. What I mean is that, unlike some memoirs I’ve read previously in my life, this book talks about things most of us think about or find important—but not only that, she puts them in perspective by frequently using her own personal experiences as examples. Plus, she defends her opinions. Repeatedly.
This is another thing that took me time to understand. I kept thinking, ‘‘Why does she defend herself so much? Does she really need to? If so, **why** does she feel the need to?’’ And the answer is, ‘‘Yes, yes, she does need to.’’ And she is very much entitled to defend herself. How could she not?
In fact, in retrospect, if she hadn’t defended her opinions, it would have been harder for her to convey, in a fierce, convincing way, that abortion is okay, that fat people deserve your respect and deserve to be treated fairly, that rape jokes are not funny and that misogynistic thoughts are not welcome in today’s society, among other things.
You know, when I was younger, before I knew I needed to choose my battles wisely, I would constantly get into trouble for fighting back, for defending myself, for talking back when I should(???) have kept quiet and I always hated that part of me that felt the need to do all those things regardless of whether my actions would have consequences or not. But I’m tired of feeling sorry I’m not more pliable, softer, quieter, lovelier.
Because, after all, it got me this far.
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Great review. This is one book I’ll have to try!
In this day and age, Lindy West is one of those voices that girls of all ages should listen to – no matter who shrill.
I followed her articles on Jezebel and now on Twitter, and I really appreciate her outspokenness. Definitely have this one on my TBR. She’s fighting the good fight.