I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore (Helen Reddy and Ray Burton)
I love Cecelia Ahern’s books. I love the touch of magic she sprinkles into each and every one of them. I like escaping into her world and always come away with a big smile on my face.
Roar is a little a different, it’s thirty short stories about women. Everyday women who we meet in the street and it’s all about how they navigate life and find the strength to change things and Roar.
Throughout, Ahern does what she does best, lets her imagination run wild. It’s a quirky collection, some are hilarious, some are touching, they are all thought provoking.
Each story starts with ‘The Woman Who…..’ it’s really difficult to pick out stand -alone stories as they really did hit their mark perfectly, here’s four that I’ve reluctantly chosen.
‘The Woman Who Guarded Gonads’
The title alone is excellent but it’s the message that is important. It’s a twist on the right to decide what we do with our bodies, making comment on abortion law in certain countries.
It sees a man speaking to three women about having a vasectomy – he doesn’t want any more children; he’s told the procedure is illegal and he’d have to travel abroad. He becomes exasperated that legally he can’t make a decision on his own body and that it is women making the choice for him. At one point he shouts, ‘This is ridiculous’ and yes, it is but this is the reality for millions of women across the world.
It’s a simple and effective way to look at choice through a different set of eyes.
‘The woman who wore pink’
A dystopian world where gender is strictly policed – women wear pink, men wear blue and are forced to identify themselves as vagina or penis. It’s a humorous take on gender stereotypes. At the same time it explores the discrimination trans gender people face on daily basis because this is a world where the toilet they use is decided at birth, sound familiar?
I particularly liked the exchange where a woman tries to hold the door open for a man and is reprimanded by the gender police:
‘Polite, huh?’ the female gender cop says, placing her hands on her generous hips and surveying the growing queue. She is enjoying the intense silence, the attentive audience. ‘My assessment of the situation is that the opposite of polite is what’s happening here. Polite would mean you allowing that man to be helpful to you. Polite, means everyone knowing their place and making sure we don’t upset the foundations of our society.
It’s the idea that a woman should know her place, stay quiet and accept her lot. I like how the woman at the centre of this tale has never in the past questioned the state of things, she’s behaved politely, as expected, when she starts to challenge the norm, we hear her roar. This could be a full novel; I’d lap it up.
‘The woman who wore her heart on her sleeve’
Literally wore her heart on her sleeve in this case, and the difficulties it brings. Her heart constantly gives her away, she tries to hide her feelings, tries to keep her guard up and protect herself.
“Wearing her heart on her sleeve made her vulnerable to emotional terrorists, those who saw the word FRAGILE emblazoned across her and did all they could to hurt her, just because they could.
Thirty years of it had led to bumps and bruises. Her most vital organ was in constant jeopardy of getting injured”.
It’s the idea that she’s suffered ‘bumps and bruises’ and as a result is afraid to let anyone get close or trust someone new with her heart until she’s forced to and comes to the realisation that she is the keeper of her own heart and learns to nurture and care for it herself.
‘The Woman who was swallowed up by the floor and met lots of other women down there too’.
Now, who hasn’t had the moment where we’d like the ground to open and simply swallow us up? If your answer is no, you’re lying.
In this tale a woman giving a presentation farts in the middle of it, wracked with embarrassment she steps into the hole in the ground and disappears, underground she meets lots of other women who share their tales of embarrassment and offer support to each other until they are ready to climb back out and face the world.
I liked the build up here, the protagonist talking about nerves when it comes to presentations and how it makes her feel. I absolutely loathe the idea of standing up in front of a room full of people and speaking out loud, I do it because I’m a believer in doing things that challenge me. I would rather boil my own head which is ironic because my head and ears get that hot doing it, I may as well do. Every word in this tale I could relate to and it’s a healthy reminder that no matter how embarrassing we perceive a moment to be, it passes, and it isn’t that big a deal. It’s a lesson in dusting ourselves down and getting on with it.
There are so many more I could talk about. There are a few that left me wanting more, I wanted to see what happened next. Each is a lesson in caring for and loving ourselves. They are stories that uplift and inspire, they are stories about everyday life, everything we face as women and how we have the power to change things. It tells women to proud of their voice, use it and roar. I certainly will do 🙂
Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm