Thank you to Ecco books for sending me a free copy of These Women. All opinions in this review are my own.
In West Adams, a rapidly changing part of South Los Angeles, they’re referred to as “these women.” These women on the corner … These women in the club … These women who won’t stop asking questions … These women who got what they deserved …
In her masterful new novel, Ivy Pochoda creates a kaleidoscope of loss, power, and hope featuring five very different women whose lives are steeped in danger and anguish. They’re connected by one man and his deadly obsession, though not all of them know that yet. There’s Dorian, still adrift after her daughter’s murder remains unsolved; Julianna, a young dancer nicknamed Jujubee, who lives hard and fast, resisting anyone trying to slow her down; Essie, a brilliant vice cop who sees a crime pattern emerging where no one else does; Marella, a daring performance artist whose work has long pushed boundaries but now puts her in peril; and Anneke, a quiet woman who has turned a willfully blind eye to those around her for far too long. The careful existence they have built for themselves starts to crumble when two murders rock their neighborhood.
These Women is one of the most unique stories I have ever read. Even though the synopsis tells you that the book is about “these women” getting murdered in Los Angeles, the focus of the book is on the women themselves. Rather than follow a typical detective style or police procedural hunt for a serial killer, Pochoda instead introduces us to the women one by one. The story is told in a few sections, each section from the point of view of another woman, all interconnected to one another. They are mothers, daughters, neighbors, and friends among other things. But their society has only seen them as “those women”.
So what are “those women”. Simply put: sex workers or prostitutes. But what this novel does is show the reader that they are not simple. They are so much more than their work. They are strong women, fighters, not willing to give up, trying day after day to carve a better life for themselves. But as they are murdered, those left behind see that not much effort is put into finding the killer because society doesn’t see the importance of a mere sex worker or the need to spend the time or money needed for a full investigation.
These Women is a raw look into the lives of those not as fortunate, those that some view as insignificant. It examines the judgement society places on people and how that judgement makes it harder for those women or people to rise up and overcome obstacles. It sheds light onto the need that some people have to simply rid prostitutes of their neighborhoods, without one thought about what exactly would happen to those women. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
Even though this novel is crime fiction, I absolutely loved that the crime was not in the forefront, and that as the reader I got the chance to know the victims more personally. A traditional crime novel focuses on the perpetrator, not the victims, which makes this a standout read! I enjoyed it and know this one will stay with me for a long time. I always love when a book forces me to see another point of view.