One of the most impactful books I read last year was Internment, by Samira Ahmed. It was so timely, a near-future dystopian that seemed so possible (still does at times) it was frightening. I’ve recommended that book to so many people, and even included it on the “What I’m Giving” holiday display at the bookstore this last winter. So, when I was able to get my hands on a copy of her upcoming novel, you know I grabbed it and ran. I mean, not literally, but still…
In Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know, Ahmed gives us two different viewpoints to consider – that of a young woman in present-day France, and of a young woman of approximately the same age 200 years prior. Both are struggling to find their own voices, and feeling trapped by their circumstances. As their lives end up intertwining, one woman’s past ends up powerfully affecting another woman’s present.
Mixing history and #herstory, Ahmed lets the reader see how – even with the progress in 200 years – so little has changed when it comes to women. While more freedoms exist now than in many times and places in the past, it’s still difficult for a woman to claim her own voice and story. Look at the term “mansplaining” – a thing every single female has experienced at some point in her life (if one says she hasn’t, then she’s not being honest – either to you, or to herself). That one word, that self-defining action, should be enough to demonstrate how hard women have to work to be able to claim their own individualities, feelings, and wishes.
I enjoyed this book, and boy did I remember some of that angsty feeling of being 17 again. Ahmed hits the nail on the head, both with the emotional roller coaster that the age entails, *and* with the fact that so many young women these days are being raised to not tolerate anyone trying to co-opt what they have to say. Between the slight romance, the art history (which was far more interesting than I anticipated), and the hint of Nancy Drew-esque investigation going on, Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know proved to be a fun and slightly escapist read that still managed to convey a timely message.
Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know comes out April 7th, and it’s yet another title that has been hit hard with the cancellation of events and closures of bookstores. So if this sounds like something you’d be interested in, click the link below to find an indie bookstore to order from!
AND, there’s even a cool pre-order gift if you choose to go that route!