Author: Miriam Toews
Narrator: Matthew Edison
Started: March 15, 2023
Finished: March 19, 2023
Genre: Literary Fiction
Between 2005 and 2009, over 130 women of a small Mennonite community in Bolivia were sprayed with belladonna to incapacitate them and then repeatedly raped. The youngest victim was only three years old. Then men were turned over to the authorities in order to save them from a victim who threatened them with a scythe. Now that the men are being bailed out, the women gather to discuss their next move: leave their community, fight the other men in the community to keep the attackers away, or forgive their rapists.
This book made my blood boil for all of the expected reasons and possibly one surprising reason. This is the fictionalization of an actual event as told by someone formerly of a Mennonite community. The women hold conversations in a barn to come to a consensus on whether or not to leave their small community for their own safety and that of their children.
The aspect of this book that aggravates me is that the author relies on a male narrator (the character within the story) to tell the women's story. This novel would have been stronger if we had been able to listen to the survivors make their decision instead of having "the minute keeper" offer his interpretation of what was being said. The women were extremely strong characters and having their story told through a male view was extremely off-putting.