Know My Name by Chanel Miller
While I knew she was a great writer from reading her victim-impact statement when she was known for so many years as “Emily Doe,” I was blown away by this book. Miller’s voice is strong and her writing is filled with details, reflection, humility and even hope.
I loved how poignantly she shared what it’s like to deal with private grief while at the same time needing to move forward with daily life. I loved learning about her amazingly supportive family and her ability to see the good in people—like the men who stepped in to help the night of her attack.
While she speaks only for herself, she is also speaking for a generation, and I can’t recommend this one highly enough.
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
I have always loved Jojo Moyes’s writing and was interested to read a book by her in this historical fiction genre. Moyes has a gift for developing characters with depth, and this book was no different.
I enjoyed the women empowerment in The Giver of Stars and learning more about the history of the Packhorse Library in rural Kentucky that helped bring books to everyone. I absolutely loved learning the history of the traveling library and also how it also gave women the ability to discover their own identities in a time and place when this wasn’t the social norm.
To Have and to Hold by Molly Millwood
Motherhood is the hardest and most wonderful thing I have ever done. While I am lucky to have had many conversations with people in my personal life, I have never read anything that explains the complexities of motherhood and marriage in such a profound manner as this book does.
The highs and lows of parenthood, the immense love and also the quest to reclaim ourselves as women and partners when our lives will never be the same are so real and valid.
To Have and to Hold spoke to me on many levels. Millwood’s ability to write with both her voice as a professional and her voice as a mother was perfectly balanced. The story is relatable and real, and I can’t stop thinking about it long after finishing it.
Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson
Beyond the Point is narrated by three women who come to West Point to play basketball. We follow Dani, Hannah and Avery over the course of seven years through their introduction to West Point and as they navigate early adulthood. The writing is beautiful and makes you just want to keep reading. I was fully immersed in the lives of these three women.
The aspects of military life were powerful and a great reminder for me as a civilian of the sacrifices made by many thousands of women and men who serve our country every single day. While this was a powerful part of this book, the story really is about their interpersonal lives. The characters were flawed and real. Gibson did an amazing job speaking to their strengths and resilience as individuals and also weaving their stories together. I loved learning about their pasts and how they played a part in both who they are and who they are yet to become.
The story is a journey of their relationships with themselves and with each other. There are aspects of love, loss, discomfort, growth and forgiveness. As someone who does not know a lot about military life, I learned so much about cadet life in an academy.
A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
This story follows three generations of Palestinian women who live in Brooklyn and their struggle to break the mold that generations prior have set before them. We are lucky to live in a country where it’s easy for us to advocate and vocalize opinions, but it is easy to forget how many people still live in oppression.
A Woman is No Man is heartbreaking, and Rum’s writing gives a voice to the many women who are still struggling to find their own. This was an eye-opening read for me and a powerful reminder of how hard it can be to break the cycles that have been set in families and communities for generations.
This story challenged me and opened my eyes to how important it is to remember where someone has come from because it makes a part of who they are today. It is never too late to change, but sometimes the discomfort can cause this to be a much harder road than any of us might originally anticipate. This book is a thoughtful and honest portrayal of a family and the power of self-compassion and perseverance. I know this book will stick with me for years to come.