Short Review #22: These Women by Ivy Pochoda (2020)

Rating: 4 out of 5 ⭐️
Title: These Women: A Novel
Author: Ivy Pochoda
Published: 2020 (Ecco, HarperCollins New York)
Pages: 335 (Hardcover)
Genres: Fiction, Thriller, Crime, Contemporary Fiction
CW: prostitution, language, murder, violence, grief
Link Here

My borrowed copy of These Women while I was reading outside

This week I’m writing from home while sick. I’m not COVID-19 ill, as far as I know (I’m currently waiting on my test results just to be safe). But this means I have extra time for reading, and I just finished reading These Women by Ivy Pochoda. This is the first book I’ve read by Ivy Pochoda, who is the author of several other works of fiction and her writing has appeared in many major publications including The New York Times. I have not seen a lot of hype over this book, but saw a lot of good reviews online. The premise sounded interesting, and I’m trying to expand my crime drama repertoire especially regarding social issues. Overall, by the end, I was hooked!

… A warning about the senselessness of rage. Because in the end it’s just you. It will always be you. So it’s a waste of energy sending all that venom and anger out into the world because the return is nothing. It’s a one-way ticket. You give and give your anger and get nothing in return except more anger, leaving nothing behind” – Ivy Pochoda, These Women

This novel is narrated from the perspectives of five different women in a South Los Angeles community surrounding a series of serial murders of prostitutes from the 90s and then in 2014. Between the daily dramas of women who walk the streets of West Adams in LA as prostitutes to the cop trying to face her own demons and find a serial killer, this novel of fiction contains a diverse cast of characters that shed light on real-life community problems. This heart-gripping story highlights different social issues such as police departments not taking murders of women who have ‘high-risk professions’ such as prostitution seriously, minority women not being believed or taken seriously by positions of power, and racial and community tensions.

These photos are a truth far beyond the reaches of Marella’s creativity. As for her work – well, she can only tell stories and not even her own. These women, the powerful mess of them. The confidence fading to vacancy. The power dissolving into despair. The challenge they pose to the viewer, the confrontation and the temptation. The strength and desperation” – Ivy Pochoda, These Women

I ended up enjoying this novel! It was slow to start, but by the end I was really into the story. I loved the way the author revealed details to the reader that were outside of the plot, but added to the reader’s suspicions of what was going to happen. I like that aspect regarding works of contemporary fiction, especially when it’s well communicated in the story line. I won’t give away any spoilers, because I want you, reader, to read this book. The author touched on some important issues regarding race and privilege in various ways to think about. And she told the stories regarding women who face these issues well without romanticizing it inappropriately. Also, the drama and story was entertaining as hell. Why should you read this book? If you’re a fan of crime dramas surrounding serial killings, but touch on social issues among the grittiest parts of LA, this is the book for you.

I give this a 4 out of 5!


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