Fight like a Girl by Sheena Kamal
I received this book from the publisher for free in the hopes I’d review. Now, this sounded intriguing, so I had to read it, but it coming from the publisher doesn’t influence my opinions of it.
Let’s start with the fact this book packs a punch and it will hit hard. As such, it requires a few content warnings: abuse (in various forms and dynamics: parent-child, between partners, as a social construct; emotional, financial, physical), manipulation, gaslighting, murder, fighting.
I did say it packs a punch. We meet Trisha who is shaken due to the fact she accidentally ran over her father, after he wandered in front of her car and he died. She’s not really emotional about it since he was a bit of an enstranged father and it is her mother who she loves.
But love in her world is translated into violence. Her mother will hit her because she loves her and the next moment make her a nice meal. And Trisha is doing the best to try to be better, do better, so she channels all that into Muay Thai kickboxing.
The book is short, and mostly shows two parts of Trisha’s world. The one where she is trying to become a good fighter and do more, get everything out of her system and make the gym and her teacher/mentor proud. But she’s just not very “lucky” and keeps losing her fights.
The other side is her family, the dynamics of the friendship between her mother, aunt and neighbour, and then how her mother very quickly seems to replace her father after the accident. At first Trisha accepts things as they are, but as time goes by she starts questioning how things really happened and why they are happening.
There is a lot of anger in Trisha, so this is a very “emotional” book where she is trying to make sense of the whole I love you and hit you at the same time, and also trying to understand where she belongs and what she can do. And she feels slightly unbalanced, should she be asking questions and does she want to know the answers behind what her mother does, what happened to her dad and the past?
The only part that didn’t really work for me was the soucoyant stories, as they are woven in a way that they may be bordering the line of realism and not, but then the thread of that is lost and kind not followed through. There a few loose threads left that had a lot of attention and then suddenly they aren’t there anymore, as if it wasn’t important or it never mattered, yet they take a few chapters and keep being mentioned for a while. I wish more had been done to follow on that particular thread or that it hadn’t really appeared as all it did was distract and detract fromthe story since it went nowhere (it peaked my curiosity, mad eme wonder and then I was like “but what about the whole soucoyant thing? what was the point?”).
I’d say, that if you plan on reading this to be prepared for how gritt and brutal it is. The only other similar book I can think of, is Monday is not coming, which was very intense too.