On my reading challenge list – I needed an award winning book. By chance I came across In the Darkroom by Susan Faludi.
Faludi is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, but this book won the Kirkus Prize. A prize I’ve never heard of and might google later.
I listened to this book. I like an audible book when I sit at the sewing machine. I also listened to it before I went to sleep. Sometimes, I had to play the chapters over again the next morning, because I fell asleep listening to it. The reader uses a monotone voice.
This book is the story of the coming together of a daughter and her father. But what shines through is the larger riddle of identity.
“In the summer of 2004 I set out to investigate someone I scarcely knew, my father. The project began with a grievance, the grievance of a daughter whose parent had absconded from her life. I was in pursuit of a scofflaw, an artful dodger who had skipped out on so many things, obligation, affection, culpability, contrition. I was preparing an indictment, amassing discovery for a trial. But somewhere along the line, the prosecutor became a witness.”
When the writer learned that her 76-year-old father long estranged and living in Hungary, had undergone sex reassignment surgery, I think Faludi in her role of journalist; not— daughter, was the curious one. The story teller went to meet her father and hear her story.
Faludi wanted to see how her father who identified as “complete woman now” was connected to violent father she had known.
For me, this book is all about identity. Today, as always, there’s so much judgement around identity.
Questions rose about who we are, and how we find out. The big question for me is why someone thinks it matters. And how we treat people if we find them to be “different”. It’s weird to me.
I can’t say I enjoyed this book, it’s not a feel good book or the best book I ever read. However, it kept my attention. (except when it put me to sleep) More than anything, this book made me think.
I thought about the relationship I had with my father and why he was the way he was. I know his public identity was so very important to him, and so very different than his private identity. I have my theories of why – the war, and his father being two huge pieces of his puzzle. But, who knows anyone really?
I thought of the transgendered people I know. I thought of how we judge others so quickly.
You know — those people. The people we think are different — People with a religion, gender, or a mind set that is different from ours.
It made me think about why anyone gets all upset about “those people?” Why? Why? Why? Why do we care that someone is different?
Identity – do others tag you? Do you tag yourself? Can you change it? Does my identity matter if I only show you a part of me? What’s in a name?
Like I said, I like a book that makes me think. In the Darkroom by Susan Faludi gets 5 stars for that reason alone.