From Literary Mama’s Now Reading, March 2017
The protagonists in Roxane Gay’s Difficult Women are just that—women who struggle, who go after what they want, who make heartbreaking compromises, who weather storms with grace. Each one of the short stories in this collection hits a distinctly different note: in one sitting, I met two female friends who show their love in a dystopian fight club, a stripper who suffers a very complicated attack from a devoted customer, and sisters running from a hurtful past into the arms of imperfect saviors.
Each woman I’ve met in this book has been complex, flawed, and gritty, determined to make life work no matter what hardships come her way. It can be troublesome to look for strength in characters who make bad decisions, like many of Gay’s do, but that’s the point—female strength comes in many forms, some of them worrying and counter-intuitive. It has been a heart-opening exercise to work my way through this collection and practice empathy towards every woman Gay introduces me to, to confront my internal bias, and to see myself in each imperfect hero.