A collection of brief essays in an annual volume by emerging writers recounting women’s experiences in the world.
From self-care to care for children and elderly parents, women’s lives often require sharply honed balancing skills. The opening essay, by Ava Carmel, recounts a visit from her home in Israel to her mother’s home halfway across the world, a place of half-heard exchanges of pleasantry and information, ritual application of makeup (“I find the entire makeup routine silly, yet fascinating. At ninety-four years old, she still has to ‘put on a face’ before leaving her apartment or before anyone comes to visit, even me”), and rueful remembrance (“despite being mostly obedient and subdued at home, I rebelled often, with vengeance”). All are matters that will be familiar to almost anyone with surviving parents. Marlena M. Matute, a young Latina writer, recounts her efforts to stay in school while battling economic hardship; as she writes, with great wisdom, “here’s something people don’t tell you: being homeless is more expensive than if you’re not.” By that she means that once off the good-credit treadmill, it’s hard to jump on, particularly in a world of first-and-last-month’s-rent-and-deposit. Some of the essays address surviving abuse and domestic violence, addiction and alcoholism, rape and betrayal; most, despite the horrors they recount, are hopeful and even helpful in assuring readers that they, too, can survive and even attain dreams that might seem out of reach. One of the most forceful declarations comes from former model Penny James: “It was empowering to realize we can choose to never be stuck counting on someone and feeling let down when we need them the most, whether in love or business.”
The best of these pieces stand on their own but also serve as invitations for responses by other aspiring writers.