The vibe of this book is reminiscent of stream of consciousness in that there isn’t a solid plot throughout the novel; rather, it’s more of an overarching theme of grief and stagnation and this oppressive feeling that there is a crisis at hand yet you have no idea how to handle the crisis, let alone identify and clearly articulate the crisis.
As an initial disclaimer, I read the complete and uncut edition of this novel. Published by Doubleday and coupled with a sporadic number of black-and-white illustrations, this edition clocks in at 1,153 pages. The cut version, according to a quick google search, sits at 823 pages, and a perhaps less hefty version (in terms of size and width of the pages) of the uncut edition is around 1,300 pages. That said, based on the edition I read, I would say that even the condensed version is still too long.
This is a powerful, vulnerable book about the harsh reality of race in America, how black men and women are inherently disadvantaged and often forced to turn to drugs or alcoholism to continue living, for however short of a time. Ward unflinchingly examines her own life and the men she has lost over the years; most importantly, she examine what their loss means to her and her community in Mississippi as well as for young Black men and women in the U.S.
Told in a real-time account of a bank robbery interspersed with segments of memory in which we gradually learn more and more about Nora’s past and the actions she’s been forced to perform, The Girls I’ve Been is an engaging, edge-of-your-seat tale of survival and resilience.
Abby N. Lewis's poem "Vital Dance" is set to music by composer Dale Trumbore.
Abby's poem "Picture it" was just published by Red Eft Review. Read it here. You can also read her second poem, "Rainelle, West Virginia," here.
"The Flood" appears on pages 18-19 and "Trout Fishing" is on page 20 in volume 95 of Sigma Tau Delta's Rectangle.
There's a new review up for Abby's chapbook, This Fluid Journey, all the way from Tokyo! https://www.instagram.com/p/Bxankn9glt4/?fbclid=IwAR0ZzvWjgfBz73ShFwtFXzt6ERBlUYExbObKN1wE-68i6pa8dpUTnkcMmR8
Two of Abby's poems, "Palm Up, Fingers Curled" and "Prisoner," can be read in the latest issue of The Crambo.
Abby's short story "Empty Vessels" was just published in the Summer 2018 issue of Sweet Tree Review!