Shrill by Lindy West

Shrill by Lindy West
Publisher: Hachette Books
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Shrill is an uproarious memoir, a feminist rallying cry in a world that thinks gender politics are tedious and that women, especially feminists, can’t be funny.

Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible — like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you — writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but.

From a painfully shy childhood in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her big body and even bigger opinions; to her public war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes; to her struggle to convince herself, and then the world, that fat people have value; to her accidental activism and never-ending battle royale with Internet trolls, Lindy narrates her life with a blend of humor and pathos that manages to make a trip to the abortion clinic funny and wring tears out of a story about diarrhea.
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With inimitable good humor, vulnerability, and boundless charm, Lindy boldly shares how to survive in a world where not all stories are created equal and not all bodies are treated with equal respect, and how to weather hatred, loneliness, harassment, and loss, and walk away laughing. Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps.

There is beauty in pain and healing. There is beauty in blunt honesty. This book has all three and so much more.

Lindy West is a big girl. She makes no bones about the fact she’s not small and will never will be. I liked her blunt honesty. It was nice to read a book where the heroine isn’t apologizing for being big. She’s just herself. The writing flowed well and kept my interest. I wanted to keep reading even when I had other things that needed to be done.

Now be warned, there is a section on rape and rape jokes. This won’t be for everyone. It won’t be. But she’s explaining her view and her thoughts. Comedy and jokes are in the eye of the beholder. She simply holds up the mirror to what some of us think is normal and whatever and to what other of us think are just wrong. I liked that she was willing to discuss the difference.

This book had funny moments, too–like when she’s talking about trying to fit in the airplane seats–not that she can’t fit, but the struggle being real and how she deals with it. There are moments that are just gut-wrenching–like when she defends herself against those who feel rape jokes are funny and should be told. She tries to get those finding the humor to see another side of the argument. Unfortunately, she ends up being the victim of internet trolls. I like how it empowered her. Many of us have been trolled and some want to hide. She doesn’t. She doesn’t take each one head-on, but she doesn’t let them win, either. It was refreshing, while being sad, too.

If you’re looking for a very meta book, then this might be the one for you.

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