Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Told from the perspective of Lizzie, a 23-year-old slave, Wench is a tale of women slaves who are taken to a resort with their Masters each summer as their mistress. The slaveholders' wives are mostly left at home and they explain the presence of their women slaves as a necessity, "can't do without her cooking," etc. Lizzie actually loves her master and has born him two children, he treats her pretty well (just tying her to the front porch so she won't escape vs. beating her bloody in public.)
This is a hard story to stomach. I guess I have never thought much about the plight of women slaves specifically. They were property for work, but also for sexual lusts and no one cared or thought that it wasn't ok (besides the slaves). A line from the book really hit me, Big Mama is warns Lizzie to "prepare for a life of violation." It is heartbreaking that these women were basically raped over and over and over in their lives. Many times bearing children who would be torn away from them and sold. Some women would "fix" themselves so they wouldn't bear any more children that would be mistreated. Lizzie has the fortune of having her children with her and they are treated well and recognized as the Master's children. Lizzie hopes that one day they will be freed, but whether that will happen is questionable.
There is violence, there is somewhat graphic sex, there is heartbreak and souls being lost through repeated mistreatment. This isn't a happy book, but opened my eyes to these difficulties I had never thought about.
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