Book–In Shrill, online columnist Lindy West shares a series of highly personal essays on topics ranging from abortion to being fat to her father’s death. The essays seem to be organized vaguely chronologically, but also with a progression from funny and light to more serious and vulnerable. My favorite of the essays was late in the book, a gut-wrenching account of Lindy’s experience with an online troll who, not content with the pedestrian vitriol usually lobbed at women on the internet, decided to pose as Lindy’s recently deceased father and insult her using his face and personal details. Also unlike other trolls, when confronted on how depraved his actions were, he sincerely apologized and gave some insight on what prompted his actions.
Lindy’s brand of humor is crass, sharp, and laden with modern internet parlance; readers will either respond to it or they won’t. While I did enjoy her essays in this collection, I think that her writing is perhaps better suited to shorter form pieces and journalism. I found that her writing style becomes too abrasive to read for long periods and is best enjoyed in short chunks. If you enjoyed this collection, I would also recommend books by Jessica Valenti and Andi Zeisler.
Book – Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley is the wonderfully whimsical story of a girl who is allergic to human touch. Young Jubilee Jenkins was an oddity in her small town, due to an allergy that seemed too ridiculous to be true. Doctors diagnosed her with a severe allergy to physical contact to other humans. Her body lacked something that all humans possess, an unfortunate reality that caused her to break out in hives at even the lightest touch. As a child, a fatal event nearly takes her life, and so Jubilee becomes untouchable, living alone and hidden from the world for nine years. When her mother passes unexpectedly, Jubilee must finally face the world on her own. Finding solace in her very first job as a Circulation Clerk at the local library, Jubilee slowly begins to open up after an encounter with a struggling divorced father named Eric.
There were a lot of things I liked about this book. I thought the concept was really unique. As soon as I opened the book jacket and read “allergic to touch,” I was hooked. I’m also a sucker for stories involving libraries or working in libraries, so this novel was a good match for me. The only thing that really bothered me was that I thought it ended much too soon and abruptly.