Think about the show ‘Why Women Kill’ for a second, really think about it. That motivation and vibe set in Toronto, with a Trinidadian lead and your neighbourhood aunties who are, ride or die. Emphasis on the die. That’s what Sheena Kamal brings to the table with ‘Fight Like A Girl,’ and it works beautifully to sell the story of Trisha learning what happened to her father.
We meet Trisha at her father’s funeral and quickly learn the world is better off without him in it. The setup for the tenuous relationship between her, her mother and her abusive father is clear from the jump. Making no excuses for his behaviour, no justifications, no rose-tinted glasses. Just an unflinching look at the existence many women live with every day. And within a few pages, we learn exactly what these women are capable of when it comes to protecting their own.
The story is told from the perspective of 18-year-old Trisha, and the narration style makes her age very apparent. There’s a degree of stating the obvious throughout the story. It makes the story a little slow at times because we see and learn everything as Trisha does, but it works for the book overall. The naivety of youth, mixed with the adultification from abuse, furthers the friction between Trisha and her mom.
The friction never truly dissipates, which is true to life. Growing up stuck in a cycle of abuse, your relationships twist and morph, even if the cycle breaks or the abuser dies— especially when you’re a person of colour and an immigrant at that. Your familial bonds can be a lot stronger and more toxic than most. You can’t just pull the ripcord and “enforce a boundary”; it takes years of time and work.
Do you put the mask over yourself before helping others, or do you jump in to help them and risk them pulling you down?
It’s a highly personal choice and not one you can make quickly, and that’s what sells Fight Like A Girl. It focuses on the importance of choices made in situations where it seems like you have none, and it does so masterfully! If you’re looking for an emotionally charged morally grey book to dig into, check out Fight Like A Girl, I know you’ll enjoy it.