Monday, August 30, 2010

Nonfiction Monday Review: I Am an Emotional Creature by Eve Ensler

Found via: Amelia Bloomer Project

I debated whether this should be a Nonfiction Monday post or not. It's poetry/monologues, but they are all drawn from interviews and writings of real teenage girls. There are no fictional characters or plot - it's a collection of writings about the real experiences of girls and young women, that have been polished by Ensler. Since Amazon includes it in two nonfiction categories and one fiction category (literature and fiction > Drama), and the Library of Congress headings don't include fiction, I figured it could count for Nonfiction Monday.

I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the WorldEve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues was a watershed moment for women. A play that spoke frankly about the most shamed part of our bodies. While there are parts of it that are definitely applicable to women of all ages, it's generally not the sort of text you hand to a middle or high school girl. But where can these girls to turn for validation of their experiences? Ensler has filled that void with I Am an Emotional Creature. Inspired by girls all over the world, from US suburbs to eastern European brothels, African villages to middle eastern cities, the poems and monologues interspersed with "girl facts" about our bodies and our treatment around the world (child labor, sex trafficking, etc) give voice to a variety of female experiences. There's the girls at a sleepover playing "would you rather," girls experiencing first love and their "first time," and girls who were sold into slavery - or ran away from home to escape that fate.

The actor in me relished these poems and monologues, as they beg to be performed. Many of the poems are obviously drawn from the experiences of multiple girls and I am sure would be best understood if the various lines were said by different girls to build a story.

Randomly, one selection from The Vagina Monologues is included - "My Short Skirt." It's an excellent poem and definitely worthy of inclusion considering how young women are often shamed for their fashion choices, it was just slightly distracting for me as I was reading the poem and thinking "I've heard this before..." (Freshman year of college I performed in The Vagina Monologues. Unfortunately I didn't do "My Short Skirt." I got to put on my best British accent and perform "The Vagina Workshop")

This should be considered mandatory reading for every teenage girl - even teenage boys would benefit from some of these (like the aforementioned "Short Skirt"). While much of the book is about body image and sexuality, there are lots of other topics too - like child labor, from the girl who works in a Chinese factory assembling Barbies, and dating violence, like in the letter to Rihanna penned by a girl in her own abusive relationship but hasn't left, like Rihanna did. It's an excellent assortment of points of view, arranged well so you aren't overwhelmed by dark and depressing themes before a more lighthearted piece pops up.

Nonfiction Monday
Nonfiction Monday is hosted this week by the Book Nosher. Be sure to check out all the other great nonfiction books highlighted today!

Women Unbound Challenge


shelf-employed said...

I haven’t seen this one, but it sounds intriguing. Thanks for putting it on my radar screen.

Rasco from RIF said...

I am delighted you decided to include this book in Nonfiction Monday; I have not seen this book and am looking forward to checking it out very, very soon! Thank you.

Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian said...

Our FOL group just set up a series of programs for teen girls and their mothers based on this book - shold be interesting!

Angela Craft said...

Definitely glad I made this a NF Monday post now! Three Turtles, I would love to hear how those programs go! This would be a great mother/daughter book.

Madigan McGillicuddy said...

Wow, is it just me, or does the cover with multiple fonts have a dark/creepy vibe? Would you say that the majority of the content is pretty heavy stuff, or are there lighter moments to balance it out?
It looks interesting, to say the least!

Angela Craft said...

Madigan - while most of the content is heavier, very little of it is actually depressing in the end. None of it left me feeling hopeless, as most of the difficult situations ended with a light at the end of the tunnel (like an African girl whose father wanted to sell her for a few cows. She ran away to a school for girls in similar situations, and then someone talked to her father about how he was wrong, and she was able to go home with the assurance that neither she nor her sisters would ever be sold).

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