The Girl in the Road

Yesterday I finished reading Monica Byrne’s The Girl in the Road and, to be quite honest, I’m still sorting through what the book was about and if I liked it. It is set in the future, a future where climate change has made life quite different, and for the first half of the book I wasn’t ever really sure what the date was or what the full effects of the climate changes were on the planet. As I was reading it, I tweeted to someone that I wasn’t sure I was liking the book, but liked it enough to finish it. And that still holds true, I don’t know that I can say I liked the book.

Part of my difficulty with the book very well could be that I’m not sure this genre is for me right now. I read some very depressing articles on climate change this week and was reading this book as well, which wasn’t a great combination. I started to get rather depressed over all about the state of where we are heading on climate and the seemingly powerlessness I feel to really make any change.

But there were other parts of the book that I also struggled with. The bare bones plot of the book is the journey of two different people, one a woman traveling along a hydropower trail across the Indian Ocean that is collecting energy from the waves, the other a young girl traveling across Africa in a truck convoy on her way to Ethiopia. In both story lines, at least in some portions of the book, sex was very present. It wasn’t graphic, but I’m not sure I understood the point of its presence so much and therefore it detracted, rather than added to the book overall.

I will say this, I’m glad I finished it, because the ending brings together a lot of various story lines, making some of the beginning parts of the book make more sense. But this is a book I’ll be wondering about and pondering for a while, it’s a book that needs a book group for me to discuss it with and sadly, I don’t really have that, so it’ll just be me and my thoughts.

I read a digital version of this book on my kindle, courtesy of my local library, highlights below.

It’s clear that life continues after trauma. What’s not clear is whether it’s worth continuing to live. (loc 137)

There’s something about dressing my own wounds and fixing my own hair that makes me feel invincible. Look on my works, ye Mighty: I both heal and adorn my own body. In fact I could go for a drink, now. (loc 272)

I didn’t make eye contact because eye contact is too intense for daily use and I didn’t speak because nothing would ever fucking come out of my mouth right. Sex was how I said what I wanted to say. (loc 341)

…[H]ow the source of a society’s energy must necessarily shape their language, art, and culture. In the case of Djibouti, their people will be wavelike. Should I call it the sociopsychology of energy?—that then infuses its culture, even its individuals. (loc 439)

Now that I know more of the world, and how terrible it is, and how terrible people can be, especially to little girls, I am amazed that I had the good luck to find them. I was handed from angel to angel! I think you were with me, even then, guiding my steps. (loc 1086)

The woman is in every place, I repeated to myself. I looked out the window and tried to see every woman’s face as my own. (loc 1145)

But I, too, was struck dumb by the beauty of this woman. How she was clothed in sunset colors, blue and tangerine. I was afraid of her, and very shy at first. (loc 1193)

The divine is energy itself, pouring from one vessel to the next. Energy is holy. You’ll know when you feel it. (loc 1987)

Beauty is precious. I need beauty in my life. (loc 2019)

No, your whole sexuality is an ongoing performance. It’s just that only a few are invited backstage. (loc 2015)

The imagined reality of walking the Trail and the lived reality of walking the Trail are themselves companions on the Trail, keeping one eye on each other at all times. (loc 2142)