A review by CJ Dee
Trigger warnings: rape and child molestation.
The Girl in the Road features two the lives of two women, Meena and Miriama. Meena is an adult who is on a journey down a treacherous sea trail to escape pursuers. Miriama is an adult who tells her story from childhood to young adult. Miriama’s is a story that involves fleeing to Ethiopia with a group of adults. Both women journey to Ethiopia in very different ways. This is their story.
I didn’t like The Girl in the Road and there are many reasons for this. It’s a bit disappointing given the potential of a science fiction story with two women of colour as the protagonists.
The story chops and changes between two stories and isn’t done well enough. The result is an extremely convoluted story with minutiae explained in great detail but major points skimmed over or not explained at all.
I was so confused by the end of The Girl in the Road that I actually googled an explanation of the ending. I was met by many other people who had the same issue. I did manage to work it out in the end but it took a few visits to different sites.
The characters are not likeable, they are not interesting and I didn’t particularly care about what happened to them by the end of the novel.
One of the most disturbing features of The Girl in the Road is a fairly sick relationship between a young adult woman, Yemaya, and the young Miriama. Miriama worships the woman with whom she is travelling as a goddess. She presents herself to Yemaya sexually and is refused. However, the second time the young girl presents herself, the older woman molests Miriama then disappears. For the rest of Miriama’s life she holds Yemaya up on a pedestal and worships her as her own personal deity.
The Girl in the Road deals with a lot of dark matters and, by the end of the novel, I didn’t feel that it dealt with these issues well. Rape, child molestation, paranoia, serious mental illness, delusion and domestic violence are all featured but, because the rest of the story is so weak, they just feel like they have been packed in to make the reader feel something.
I wouldn’t personally recommend this book to anyone.
Page count: 319 [excluding Acknowledgments]
Publisher: Blackfriars (Hachette)