April 17

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

While Ms K is busy with happy tales, I am deep in nightmares. Literally. Last night I dreamt my husband was kidnapped on a busy street in broad daylight and I woke up thanking Roxane Gay and her book “An Untamed State”

You will find this book front and centre in most bookshops right now with close to 5 stars but also with a big disclaimer – reading will cause nightmares, severe cuticle damage and leave you pondering your relationships and personal survival skills.

The cleverly named “An Untamed State” tells the story of Mireille Jameson who was born into one of Haiti’s wealthiest families. The family moved to America but always called Haiti home. On a visit to her home country, Mireille was kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port au Prince Estate. She was held captive by 7 men/animals for 13 days waiting for her obstinate father to pay her ransom. During this time she endured unimaginable abuse and only survived by allowing herself to die inside. Mireille’s father was as willful in his refusal to compromise with the kidnappers as she was to survive them.

There are many themes running through this book including the politics of privilege and the sexual power play between men and women. For me more than anything, it is a story of one woman’s will to survive and rebuild after the devastating physical and emotional damage she sustained from her experience. The reason I like the title so much is because of how well it wraps up all those themes in one.

The unflinching horror of this book is occasionally broken up with moments of hope and I particularly enjoyed the relationship that grew between Mireille and her mother in law; Lorraine in the aftermath of the kidnapping.

This is a gripping, gut wrenching read on a pretty hideous topic. Enjoying it is almost like “Liking” a funeral notice on Facebook but I would still recommend it all the same.

And that is just my 2 cents worth.