In an effort to build a space for queer people like myself, every Tuesday I’ll be posting opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community. Welcome to Queerly Not Straight! Enjoy and leave a comment below if you have a suggestion for what I should cover next.
What do you do when your body betrays you?
When you feel like a prisoner in your own skin?
When your life changes in real, deadly, and imminent ways?
That’s exactly what Mara Tagarelli is struggling to wrap her mind around in Nicola Griffith’s new book titled “So Lucky.” When first introduced to the character we see her wife Rose leaving her. Their relationship has disolved and Mara is trying to keep herself together despite the fact that so many things remind her of her wife. The punches just keep coming when in the span of a week she is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and after a mix up at work consisting of an ill titled budget report (FUCK YOU AND THE HORSE YOU RODE IN ON), her job forces a retirement on her because of their “concerns” over her work efficiency now that she’s sick.
And let me tell you, Mara doesn’t take this lying down. She fights! At every turn she keeps pushing forward, especially as her body starts suffering the effects of MS. She changes her home, prepares for the inevitable struggles her body will have to go through if she ends up being wheelchair bound, and comes to the stark realization that the world is not equipped for disabled people. That right there was the most shocking and memorable thing for me and Mara.
We go around our lives, sometimes with our heads in the clouds, ignorant of what others are struggling with or how we can make things more accessible to those that are different from us.
“So Lucky” doesn’t hold back it’s punches when it comes to this truth and lets you live a different life through the eyes of someone fighting a threat they can’t see but that they can feel in a world that paints Mara as a “victim” or “sufferer.” So Mara fights back. She starts a nonprofit, starts traveling to give speeches at conferences, and not letting her illness define her. She will define it. And she will empower herself no matter if anyone’s ready for her or not.
An important note that I wanted to make about this book, and what initially drew me into it, is that the main character is a queer woman. Not a queer woman going through a coming out story later on in her life like we’re all used to seeing over and over again on TV and in movies. She’s just a queer woman who so happens to have lost her wife, job, control of her body, who might also have feelings for her best friend. Her queerness doesn’t define her. And it’s refreshing as fuck.
For too long we’ve lived under this veil of lies and fabrications that queer stories could not be told because they wouldn’t “connect with people” or feel real. Well “So Lucky” feels real. You don’t have to be queer to understand the prejudice of others or a body that won’t obey your commands when you give them. You don’t have to be queer to understand the anger of losing a job. And you don’t have to be queer to understand the loneliness, confusion, and longing of losing a loved one.
“So Lucky” is an experience that I’d implore everyone to read to gain perspective and understand the journey that one goes through when SURVIVING and FIGHTING, not just multiple sclerosis, but to be accepted and understood in a world ill equipped for the disabled.
About the Author:
Nicola Griffith is a native of Yorkshire, England, where she earned her beer money teaching women’s self-defense, fronting a band, and arm-wrestling in bars, before discovering writing and moving to the US. Her immigration case was a fight and ended up making new law: the State Department declared it to be “in the National Interest” for her to live and work in this country. This didn’t thrill the more conservative power-brokers, and she ended up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, where her case was used as an example of the country’s declining moral standards.
In 1993 a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis slowed her down a bit, and she concentrated on writing. Her novels are Ammonite (1993), Slow River (1995), The Blue Place (1998), Stay (2002), Always (2007), and Hild (2013).
‘So Lucky’ is available for purchase HERE.
Add ‘So Lucky’ to your Goodreads HERE.
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Queerly Not Straight posts every Tuesday with opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community.