Book Review | Walking Towards Ourselves: Indian Women Tell Their Stories edited by Catriona Mitchell

walking-towards-ourselves-book-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: Walking Towards Ourselves: Indian Women Tell Their Stories
EDITOR: Catriona Mitchell
PUBLISHER: Hardie Grant Publishing
RELEASE DATE: April 16, 2016
GENRE: Nonfiction, Memoir, Politics

In one of the world’s most patriarchal societies, Indian women break their silence by sharing their most intimate stories.  This powerful collection features diverse experiences of womanhood and motherhood in India, to educate and empower with raw honesty.  Walking Towards Ourselves is the most moving and enriching book I’ve had the privilege to read this year.

India is a land where women are worshipped as goddesses … But the real strength of Indian women, those unsung heroines who hold up more than half the sky, comes from the disadvantaged, the indigent and marginalised, the often-silenced majority who till the soil, graze their cattle, work in menial domestic jobs, and look after and sustain their immediate and extended families – Foreword by Namita Gokhale page 4

Although these 18 memoirs can’t represent every woman in India, they unite to form a rich narrative that shows many shades of the female experience, from the inner workings of marriage bureaus and dating sites, to the normalised abuse and oppression in many marital homes.  The overarching message about individualism and empowerment is loud and clear.

In a world full of women who lacked a place in society but were unaware of this deprivation, no one was ready to accept me as a woman who was aware of her existence as a distinct individual – Beyond Memories by Salma page 125

Walking Towards Ourselves highlights self-love narratives in which women come to terms with their appearance and their sensuality.  When discrimination against dark skin destroys many young people’s marriage prospects, these writers reclaim their bodies.  For some, the decision to stay single or childless is to accept a life of judgment, harassment, or familial ostracism.  To these women, being seen as an individual with a valid voice is more important than cultural acceptance.

My body will continue to be my instrument, my blackness my deliverance, my skin my muse – Black by Rosalyn D’Mello page 67

Possibly my greatest praise for Walking Towards Ourselves is its clarity and flow.  Each story is told in the simplest words possible, allowing the emotion of each woman’s experience to speak through empathetic connection.  The flow from story to story is natural and compelling, building to what I felt was its emotional peak with Scenes From a Marriage by Anonymous, a story of marital rape that endangers its author in the telling.  This collection has an overall unity that makes each story fit into one beautiful whole.

However, what I believe makes this book most powerful and unique is its positivity.  At no point is it hateful or aggressive.  It doesn’t put others down in the process of raising its voice.  It bears its own “lightness”.

I strongly recommend Walking Towards Ourselves to men and women, young and old.  Open yourself to this offering of wisdom, pain, beauty, and hope.  As a woman, this book makes me feel connected and no longer alone.

4 thoughts on “Book Review | Walking Towards Ourselves: Indian Women Tell Their Stories edited by Catriona Mitchell

  1. Georgiana Darcy says:

    I am very surprised by the “lightness” you have mentioned. I’d totally expect this book to be aggressive and maybe even ugly sometimes but hey, surprise! Would love to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paige @ Paige's Pages says:

      Thanks for the comment, I so appreciate you taking the time to read my review! Same, I was surprised and delighted by how this book handles different aspects and experiences of being a woman. I finished reading with a beautiful feeling of hope. I hope you love it if you read it! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wendy Lestina says:

    Thank you for posting this review. We’ve had a number of Indian guests over the last three years, and the stories the women have shared (not poor or uneducated, however; travelers usually aren’t) have been both astonishing and inspiring. I’ve ordered the book, and appreciate your insight.

    Liked by 1 person

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