Review : The Girl in The Road

23209965The Girl in The Road

by Monica Byrne

Goodreads Synopsis:

In a world where global power has shifted east and revolution is brewing, two women embark on vastly different journeys—each harrowing and urgent and wholly unexpected.

When Meena finds snakebites on her chest, her worst fears are realized: someone is after her and she must flee India.  As she plots her exit, she learns of The Trail, an energy-harvesting bridge spanning the Arabian Sea that has become a refuge for itinerant vagabonds and loners on the run.  This is her salvation.  Slipping out in the cover of night, with a knapsack full of supplies including a pozit GPS system, a scroll reader, and a sealable waterproof pod, she sets off for Ethiopia, the place of her birth.

Meanwhile, Mariama, a young girl in Africa, is forced to flee her home.  She joins up with a caravan of misfits heading across the Sahara. She is taken in by Yemaya, a beautiful and enigmatic woman who becomes her protector and confidante. They are trying to reach Addis Abba, Ethiopia, a metropolis swirling with radical politics and rich culture.  But Mariama will find a city far different than she ever expected—romantic, turbulent, and dangerous.

As one heads east and the other west, Meena and Mariama’s fates are linked in ways that are mysterious and shocking to the core.

Written with stunning clarity, deep emotion, and a futuristic flair, The Girl in the Road is an artistic feat of the first order: vividly imagined, artfully told, and profoundly moving.

My Review:

4.5 of 5 Stars

It’s a little strange for me to simultaneously really love a book and be completely bewildered by it.  Almost every single time I thought I knew what was going on I ended up not having a clue.  What I really enjoyed though was how much it made me think about a wide variety of topics.  Energy use, politics, LGBT issues, and child abuse all fit seamlessly into the narration of two separate stories.  In one sense each story felt confusing because the information was provided in such small bits and often only in subtle clues which were not revealed until much later.  It led me to believe I knew far more than I actually did.  As each of the two journeys unwinds it’s hard to see how they might connect.  It wasn’t until very near the end when I was able to piece it all together and understand the impact of it all.  I admit there are still some parts that left me confused that I think I know what happened but maybe I don’t.  This is both frustrating and exhilarating at the same time because it really challenges me as a reader.  This is one of those books I feel I can probably read over and over again and learn something new each time.

As an added bonus all of this is set in India, Africa, and finally Ethiopia.  Because of this ethnicities and cultures were explored that I’ve not seen in much literature before.  I really was able to appreciate how much work the author put into research for the novel.  May of the places, people, and events were beautifully described and push me to want to learn more.  This was another favorite theme for me through most of the book.  It’s really influenced me to want to learn more about not only the various topics covered but also the countries involved.

I have seen it described as science fiction and have to disagree with this label to some extent.  The book is set some what in the future but not that far off.  Most of the technology is understandably more advanced that what is used in mainstream society right now.  None of it felt that different from reality however.  I’m not sure how realistic The Trail is but it was perhaps the only ‘science fiction’ element that stood out for me.

I really adored this book and it got me thinking about a number of different topics.  I think with anything that involves this depth of introspection comes a little discomfort.  The book doesn’t censor at all and is definitely meant for a mature audience.  There is swearing, sex, and some fairly intense scenes involving a variety of violence including rape.  It’s done with tact instead of drama for the sake of drama which I appreciated.  All of these scenes added to the story and felt somewhat necessary.  While I can say it was done well it also left me a little ‘squirmy’ which I think is perfectly normal for the subject matter.  For me, who rarely if ever likes this type of content it felt like a demonstration of how the domino effect from a single event can continue on and on through someones life.  This isn’t a book for everyone for a variety of reasons.  But if you enjoy thought provoking books and can appreciate the sometimes graphic nature of writing, this is worth a read.

This eGalley was provided free from the publisher through Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion and I was compensated in no other manner.

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