Author: Monica Byrne
Published: 17 February 2015
Publisher: Broadway Books
[I received a copy of this book for review; I’m not being compensated in any way for said review.]
The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne weaves together the stories of two women, Meena and Mariama. Meena’s story begins when she awakens one morning to find snakebites on her chest. Upon seeing this, she flees from her home and decides to leave India. On her journey, she leaves of The Trail, an energy-harvesting bridge that spans across the length of the Arabian sea. Immediately, she decides to walk The Trail to make her way to Ethiopia. Mariama, as a young girl, is forced to flee her home and comes across a group of men carrying oil from her hometown to Addis Abba, Ethiopia. Though decades occur between the two stories, the women find themselves interlinked the more their journeys progress.
What initially drew me into the novel was not only the premise, but also the location. I thought it was great that the novel was set in both India and Africa; they’re two locations definitely underused in contemporary Western literature (in the sci-fi genre and otherwise). I thought Bryne used the locations well, and captured the feel and tone of both cultures superbly. They both felt incredibly real to me.
I enjoyed both narrator’s voices; I thought they were well executed and characters worthy of both sympathy and empathy. They were definitely complex characters. I also enjoyed the side characters.
I greatly enjoyed Bryne’s writing throughout the entirety of the novel; it’s very lyrical, beautiful, and complex. She certainly knows how to craft a sentence. I loved the fact that she used the language to emphasize the unreliability of both narrators, as well as to paint the emotions and motivations behind each character’s actions. One thing I will say is that the complexity, at times, could have been clearer in order to portray what was happening. I was lost at the epilogue–which might have been a fault of my own, as I sped through the book. The book is definitely worth a re-read, if only if I can see if I can make more sense of the final pages.
Overall, The Girl in the Road is a beautiful, complicated novel worthy of reading. I have a feeling it will haunt me for some time to come.
Until next time, happy reading!