Thursday, January 19, 2012

"Some Girls" by Jillian Lauren Book Review

"Some Girls" written by Jillian Lauren is the story of one American girl's experience in a harem, during the early part of the 1990's. The story takes place in multiple locations: New York, suburban New Jersey and Brunei, the royal sultanate capitol of Borneo. When I see the word "sultanate" I immediately think of the middle east, Muslim culture, sand dunes and Bedouin tents, and while there's a nod to that kind of culture in the novel, Borneo is actually part of Southeast Asia, and some of the other women Lauren encounters are Filipino, Korean, Indian, etc. The book follows Lauren's journey from struggling actress and unpaid theatre intern (believe me, been there done THAT!) to working in an escort agency, to becoming a part of a handpicked harem halfway across the world.
I know I've used the word "girl" and "woman" interchangeably, and that's been on purpose, because that's what I believe is part of the story here: a girl asked to deal with a woman's issues and a woman who is, as Lauren describes herself "a good girl at heart." This novel is very much about Lauren's search for identity and a meaningful relationships and it's a solid thread throughout the whole story, as is the search for her birth mother.
I read reviews on Amazon AFTER I've finished a book. I found this book originally in BUST Magazine, and was intrigued enough to buy it. I have to agree somewhat with some of the criticisms I found there, because I do feel a sense of detachment between writer and the story while I'm reading. I know this from my own experience: a certain amount of detachment is necessary in order to do some of the things we need to do in order to survive. Believe me, if you let it all in and let it all change you (and the world will fuck you up and change you if you let it) you'll end up what my hubs calls "a soup sandwich". That is, a hot mess. I would have enjoyed some more detail about her thoughts and feelings and physical descriptions, especially when it came to the meat of the story; Lauren came through with more feeling and heart when she spoke about growing up with her adoptive parents, and describing the abortion that her boyfriend made her get. I picked up this book to read what it was like being in a harem, and I could have used some more detail about that. Most of the book is a memoir about growing up and struggling as an actress and artist. Which is fine, but not completely what I was expecting in a book titled "My Life in a Harem." I also agree with some people's criticism of the ending. All of a sudden it's five years later, and while I can relate to the tattooed pariah in conservative suburbia, I am left wondering about what happened during those five years.
I read the book cover to cover in less than two days, and while not a gushing "dear diary" kind of revelation (or redemption as some of the critics of the book have asked for) it's still a compelling read for some of its flaws and I would be intrigued to see how this writer grows in her other books.
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So cold

I have never been this cold before, inside and out. It's hard to think, it's hard to process a thought. There's no physical heat...