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Mothers Tell Your Daughters by Bonnie Jo Campbell TRIGGER WARNING (sexual abuse, drug abuse, physical abuse)

This is a book of short stories, that, while easily able to be broken up into quick reads, are still not simple reads by any stretch of the imagination.  It is Ms. Campbell's sixth book, which is very impressive, and her third of short stories.  In it, we are introduced to rural characters - all of whom are women - that have suffered extensively in their lives. They often struggle with abuse in some way, shape or form - molestation, rape, drug/alcohol abuse, for example. We also see characters that deal with teen pregnancy, men who cheat and loss of employment. We meet a drug addicted woman who is willing to have sex with her boyfriend for drugs, but not with his three friends (even though they do anyways), a mother who can't trust the one man who loves her and a dying woman who tries to explain why she allowed her boyfriend to molest her daughter. This book is NOT an easy read so be forewarned!

That being said, what I enjoyed is that these women seemed, on some level, to have their own agency. They wanted things like sex and jobs and connection and more mundane things, like candy. I sincerely believe that Ms. Campbell, in these stories, sought to show us and remind us that everyone is human no matter what they struggle with in their private lives currently or have gone through in the past, so it would behoove all of us to treat each other with basic human decency and civility. Ms. Campbell also seeks to show us that our lives seem to be governed by our base, animal instincts as opposed to our brains. Lust - for sex, drugs, whatever - dominates her characters' decision making process more than careful reasoning and each woman does not know how to master it or control it. I felt terribly uncomfortable reading a lot of the stories, but I think that this was also Ms. Campbell's point - life isn't all glitter and unicorns. And that's perhaps the best part of this book

A definite must read.


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