Review for "Mean" by Myriam Gurba (2017) Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
This is a doozy of a book. It’s a non-linear narrative, opening with a violent account of a woman being raped and murdered in a park. Gurba then switches to a host of different topics that are seemingly unrelated to the first but yet still interesting: growing up as a mixed race Chicana, having a family member with mental illness, discovering her identity as a lesbian. Later in the book we discover that the attacker referenced in the first part is the same that would go on to sexually assault Gurba as a college student.
There’s a lot of wordplay in this book, particularly around the occurrence of rape. I don’t like it.
God is like rape. Rape is everywhere too. Rape is in the air. Rape is in the sky… p.98
Gurba writes about ‘meanness’ as a kind of armor worn by women of color out of necessity. She isn’t trying to censor herself or make the reader comfortable with her descriptions and I get it, I really do. But it’s still unsettling nonetheless.
The writing’s decent here. Three and a half stars.