Saturday, June 27, 2009

Review: "Lucky Girls" by Nell Freudenberger

"Lucky Girls", Nell Freudenberger's first book, has been nominated for several awards and honours, and has received the PEN/Malamud award. After reading this collection of short stories, it's not hard to see why. Each story, primarily focused on the Indian subcontinent as well as well as Southeast Asia, focuses on a different woman and her unique challenges.

The first story, "Lucky Girls" is about a woman who's married lover has died, yet despite disapproval from his family, she finds herself unable to leave the place that connects her to him. "The Orphan", the second story in this collection, is about a young woman living in Thailand and her family, although facing their own troubles, attempting to protect her from the harder things in life. "Outside the Eastern Gate" is the story of a woman abandoned early on by her troubled mother, who must come back to India and deal with her past. "The Tutor" (my favourite story, although they were all enjoyable) is about a young girl living overseas who longs to return to America, and "Letter from the Last Bastion" is a letter to unknown persons where the writer attempts to come to terms with her own parentage.

Each story was carefully written, and throughout there is a theme of women who feel as if they do not belong in their surroundings. These women continue to perservere to find peace with their situations, with varying outcomes. Freudenberger also skillfully addresses the theme of isolation, leaving the reader with a lot to consider when the final page has been turned.

This book is my first entry into the HarperCollins contest "Summer is Short: Read a Story". A reminder that this contest is open to both Canadian and US residents, and the rules can be found here. Take a moment to browse inside this book as well here.

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