• Aisha Musa

“Life is an adventure to be embraced with an open mind and loving heart”

~How Bernardine Evaristo ties issues of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation in  Girl, Woman, Other, and how we can incorporate that into our daily life?

The award-winning book, Girl, Woman, Other has taken every reader by shock in terms of the way the author explicitly ties issues of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. There is no doubt that Bernardine Evaristo created a canvas where societal issues could be freely expressed. Girl, Woman, other is a tale of 11 black women, one non-binary who manages to transgress the stereotypical world of male-dominating societies and subvert the norm where male characters are given the power to narrate. Not in this book. Evaristo writes a book about women and gives them the power to tell their stories, to carefully lay their work of art openly for readers to devour.

There’s no doubt, Evaristo unapologetically wrote about her characters without regard to how the public will perceive them. It is in ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ that readers see strong women who manage to make ends meet despite their current circumstances. Girl, Woman, Other proves that there’s no limit to what women can achieve, regardless of their background and sexual orientation. Evaristo ties the former and the latter beautifully and proves that in a world not made for women, she has purposely chosen to change that narrative and prove that women are whoever they choose to be and it is in their hands to make that decision and, not society’s.

In Girl, Woman, Other, every female character is divided by their own circumstances but brought together by way of natural similarities-race and gender. Not only does Evaristo tie her characters by their race and gender, but she also brings them together within the story, in a way where the characters are of a collective entity as opposed to an individual one. How does she create a space for black women to come together, you ask? Well, there is no doubt that being black is part of an identity, and all 12 women are aware of this. Despite the struggles they face along the line, they never fail to acknowledge the powers that exist within their being.

In the book, the author introduces her first six characters- Amma, Yazz, Dominique, Carole, Bunmi, and LaTisha and slowly ends with the six other women- Shirley, Winstome, Penelope, Megan/Morgan, Hattie, and Grace to prove that in a world not made for women, they can collectively uplift each other by being there for each other. Furthermore, one could suggest that Evaristo wanted her female characters to empower each other, to each tell their unique stories whilst leaving room for others to tell theirs-this technique was an active way for the writer to build a web filled with the stories of powerful women.

She shows that her characters are ready to embrace life as it is and she asks for readers to do this same, “Life is an adventure to be embraced with an open mind and loving heart”. Evaristo suggests that life comes with a baggage of unforeseen circumstances and struggles, and it is important to take life as a spontaneous adventure whilst being open-minded about other people’s ways of life and decisions. Therefore, as humans of this planet who, one way or another, have the power to influence change, it is our job to take the words of authors and see how we can incorporate them into our daily lives. Thus, if one can implement strategies that promote open-mindedness, there is a likelihood of building long-lasting connections and relationships, which will allow our society as a whole to soar higher.

So, I end this article with a word of advice that would benefit everyone reading this- life is for the living, as long as you wake up every day, there’s hope for a better life. So fear not living but also fear living a life that is not adventurous.

The Politician Independent Newspaper, created in 2020