An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

Once upon a time, in a far-off land, I was kidnapped by a gang of fearless yet terrified young men with so much impossible hope beating inside their bodies that it burned their very skin and strengthened their will right through their bones.

Damn. I read An Untamed State over a period of two weeks, taking in the torturous first half at a snail’s pace, speeding through the second half in an emotion-filled haze. The book follows Mirelle Jameson, daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, wife to Michael, an American man, and mother to Christophe, the couple’s newborn son. As Mirelle and Michael enter their car right outside of Mirelle’s father’s home, a group of men kidnap her. She endures thirteen days of living hell.

Roxane Gay fills this book with all the right literary elements. Two aspects that stood out include her raw, vivid prose and the flashbacks she used to provide character depth while breaking away from the main, horrifying narrative. But An Untamed State reaches far deeper than just an ordinary novel with a solid structure. Gay’s novel acts as an experience, a book that delves into PTSD and the burdens of women and the unbearable pain of the world we live in. Hope and visceral agony thrum through its pages, as the book centers on the theme of dying every day and still surviving, and fighting, to stay live.

Roxane Gay’s debut novel reads like nothing else: difficult, honest, heartbreaking, and redemptive. I cannot wait to read more of her work in the future.

*also, apologies for my sporadic posting! I say this with every post, but I will dedicate more time to writing as my onslaught of exams/obligations cools down. If you want to check out my reviews of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, and The Gift of Therapy by Irvin Yalom here, here, and here respectively – I hope everyone has a great rest of the week!


Filed under 5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

2 responses to “An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

  1. I had never heard of this book until I read your review Thomas, but it sounds really fascinating. So does the book take place in Haiti? I also like what you said about it delving into PTSD. I don’t think I’ve read a book that has focused on PTSD, but I think it’ll be a learning experience to read about it. Great review!

    • Parts of the book take place in Haiti, other parts not. This book and Laurie Halse Anderson’s The Impossible Knife of Memory both do a great job of tackling PTSD, though in different ways. Thank you for your compliment and for your comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s