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When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill

I got this book for my birthday not expecting to pick it up the very next day and then finish it barely two days later. That is what happened though. It wasn’t a restful book. It was a book that made no secret about it’s commentary. And I can see how others have marked it as heavy-handed.

And it technically was quite heavy-handed, in it’s way. But I don’t think that it was to the books detriment. The author set out to write a book about feminine rage and strong women, and she did. And so much more than that, too, as she points out in the acknowledgements. It is a story of the trauma of silence, the freedom of allowing others to simply be who they are. It is a story of healing. It is painfully beautiful.


Alexandra, Alex, as she has always insisted, lives in a world not too different from our own, though the narrative is set in the 1950s at the beginning. She suffers for her biological sex and there are a myriad of things that she is taught that exacerbate the problem. Silence and the pressure of conformity are the biggest.


In a world where dragoning is seen as a women’s problem it has been ignored, forcibly forgotten and an embarrassment to polite society. But what if, like with every other surface level difference between ourselves and others, it was just something that existed? Maybe we don’t need to assign morality to things that simply are.


Fear is the thing that most often leads to anger and violence. What if we strove to understand, to talk about, to acknowledge all that we fear? What could we achieve? How much better could we love those we care about?


How much better could we love ourselves if we were not given the narrative that all we are is wrong?

I was deeply moved by this story, I don’t think I’ve read feminine rage so beautifully or rawly written. It wasn’t sugar coated or made less than what it was. It was honest and real.


5/5 would recommend!


PS. There was no post, or mention of no post, last week because I was sick. First time in a while I’ve been so sick. And, yeah, I was recovering on my birthday, definitely not the birthday I’d planned on but we made the most of it! On top of that I was also dealing with really bad heartburn, which if you haven’t dealt with that, that can feel very scary. Especially when one already deals with gut troubles to begin with. And, btw, apparently it can be heartburn and the pain can present lower for some (I’m no medical professional, this is just my lived experience).


PPS: Stickers are here! More info coming very soon, promise.


PPPS. Kept up with the Inktober though and have been learning so much about my creative self. Here’s all my pieces to date (latest to oldest, not including today since I've not gotten to that yet...):


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