I received a review copy of this book from Net Galley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. They give me no money, nor do they in any way influence my thoughts – those are 100% my own for better or worse.
E-ARC (Net Galley)
A Recommended Book From
The New York Times Book Review * The Washington Post * Vogue * Entertainment Weekly * Marie Claire * Vulture * The Minneapolis Star-Tribune * LitHub * Crime Reads * PopSugar
From the award-winning author of Wonder Valley and Visitation Street comes a serial killer story like you’ve never seen before—a literary thriller of female empowerment and social change
In West Adams, a rapidly changing part of South Los Angeles, they’re referred to as “these women.” These women on the corner … These women in the club … These women who won’t stop asking questions … These women who got what they deserved …
In her masterful new novel, Ivy Pochoda creates a kaleidoscope of loss, power, and hope featuring five very different women whose lives are steeped in danger and anguish. They’re connected by one man and his deadly obsession, though not all of them know that yet. There’s Dorian, still adrift after her daughter’s murder remains unsolved; Julianna, a young dancer nicknamed Jujubee, who lives hard and fast, resisting anyone trying to slow her down; Essie, a brilliant vice cop who sees a crime pattern emerging where no one else does; Marella, a daring performance artist whose work has long pushed boundaries but now puts her in peril; and Anneke, a quiet woman who has turned a willfully blind eye to those around her for far too long. The careful existence they have built for themselves starts to crumble when two murders rock their neighborhood.
Written with beauty and grit, tension and grace, These Women is a glorious display of storytelling, a once-in-a-generation novel.
I hate that stories about the dangers of not believing women are always so god damned timely, but…there you have it.
It’s not that hard.
So this story shows us “those women” – the women society as a whole doesn’t want to believe. A killer has been prowling the streets of South LA for more than a decade. Women have been dying horribly, but nobody looks too hard. After all, they’re prostitutes. They had it coming. That’s the risk when you do that kind of work, right? (Spoiler Alert: Fucking wrong. That’s wrong. And it’s disgusting.) And to add insult to injury, none of these women are well-off, and they’re all WOC, and most of them lived hard. All of these intersections just add layers and layers of reasons for law enforcement and society as a whole to just sweep their bodies under the rug.
But one of the women didn’t die. She recovered, and now she’s being stalked by a woman, but still – nobody’s listening to her. They think she’s crazy, or on drugs. Or maybe it’s PTSD – she’s just jumping at shadows.
“I know that everything inside you should be yours. But live long enough and it isn’t. The world eats away at that shit. The world comes and takes little pieces like a rat eating bread on the sidewalk.”These Women, Ivy Pochoda
To make this novel feel even more ‘of the time’ than the over-arching reality that we only believe women about basically anything they say when they fit within a very narrow set of expectations we have about every aspect of her appearance, approach, personality and the like, it’s also about the dangerous, immoral idiocy of the “Thin Blue Line.” See, one of These Women is a cop. She’s a former Homicide detective who was bumped down to Vice after a horrible accident that her former partner decided she was at fault for (although she demontrably wasn’t) and graciously decided to “cover for her” in order to show that she was always willing to go to bat for her fellow officers (because she planned to go for captaincy, which she of course got).
I feel like I should also say that this is NOT a police procedural, nor is it a police-narrative-driven novel. This story is about the dangers of misogyny and the importance of believing that women are people, and that they therefore should be afforded the same support, concern, and dignities as men.
About the Author (from the author’s website):
Ivy Pochoda is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Wonder Valley, Visitation Street and These Women. Wonder Valley won the 2018 Strand Critics Award for Best Novel and was a finalist Los Angeles Times Book Prize and Le Grand Prix de Litterature Americaine, as well as being chosen as an NPR and Los Angeles Times Book of the Year. Visitation Street won the Prix Page America in France and was chosen as an Amazon Best Book of the Month, Amazon Best Book of 2013, and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Her books have been translated into five languages. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times & The Los Angeles Review of Books. Her first novel The Art of Disappearing, was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2009. She teaches creative writing at the Studio 526 Skid Row.
I recommend this book full stop. It is really, really good. It is also very depressing in its realness. But I’d say if you like mysteries or thrillers, or really anything remotely connected to serial killers, but you’ve found yourself annoyed by the way that women in these stories tend to fit a few very narrow tropes, I’d give this one a shot.
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These Women By Ivy Pochoda Harper Collins ISBN: 9780062656384 Published: July 14, 2020 Price: $27.99 (USD, Hardcover) Hardcover, E-book, Audio 496 Pages Author's Website: https://www.ivypochoda.com/