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When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations…

When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice

by Terry Tempest Williams

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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
A beautifully written, creative book. I resisted reading it for some reason, maybe because I was afraid it would be new-age-ish, but I'm glad I finally read it. The subject is really how to find one's own way to be self-expressive and creative, and she explores that subject in a most unusual way. Inspiring! ( )
  meredk | Feb 14, 2017 |
I received this book as a suggestion on a gift card from a women's secret gift exchange I joined on Facebook. I would not have bought myself this book, thought I did take some women's studies classes in university. Frankly, I find the modern definition of words like 'voice' grating... but I ordered it anyway, after all, I didn't have anything to lose!

After I completed my order, I read some reviews online and grew concerned that I'd made a big mistake. But since it was on it's way, I decided to forget about it.

I started to read it a couple of days after it came, and I would say that it took me a while to like it. I think around page 50, or so, I finally committed finishing it; the writing wasn't as feministy as I imagined, and her descriptions of nature weren't as poetic as I feared. Reading the book was sort of like being interrupted by someone chatty sitting down next to me on the ferry: I was annoyed at first (always by my own preconceived notions), but over time I felt endeared to her, and by the end I wanted to keep in touch.

In the book there is a mix of story telling, activism, poetry and significant damage to the fourth wall. Because of the way she writes this book, without drama or pretence, I imagine Terry Tempest Williams as a genuine and honest person. If what she writes is true, what she shares makes her vulnerable and raw, a quality by which I can't help but be captivated. I'd like to read more of her work and learn more about her life. (I'm still surprised I am so pleased by this book)

I'm not a giver of five stars, but I would give this book 4.5 if I could. When Women Were Birds opened my mind and refreshed (and challenged) my perspective on how I live. I can think of many many women in my life, and men for that matter, to whom, for many reasons, I would recommend this book. And honestly, I would rather buy them a copy than lend out my own, in case it doesn't come back. ( )
  Liosa | Feb 7, 2017 |
This was a super slow starter for me....then I just felt pretty neutral about it.....just eh for me - one of those that I didn't care for myself, but I would recommend to others because I think it hit on things some of my friends could relate to a bit more. ( )
  KristiAnneS | Jul 26, 2016 |
This is a wonderful, poetical, lyrical, highly personal book. You have to take the author where she is, while she tries to fathom who her departed mother was. What does one make of a pile of journals (left to the next generation) empty? Was this a voice frozen or free? This book talks about parents and children and legacy, meeting or missing. An overarching message is that when we realize we really cannot fully know someone else, we started thinking about what we know of ourselves. Ultimately, this book is thought provoking, and whether this was one of the author's intentions or not, it can certainly provide a valuable (non-didactic) stimulus to anyone who wants to sit in a guided (by reading) meditation on family and other relationships. ( )
  qoe | May 18, 2016 |
Amazing read recommended by a local librarian - so glad! ( )
  viviennestrauss | Feb 17, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374288976, Hardcover)

The beloved author of Refuge returns with a work that explodes and startles, illuminates and celebrates

Terry Tempest Williams’s mother told her: “I am leaving you all my journals, but you must promise me you won’t look at them until after I’m gone.”

Readers of Williams’s iconic and unconventional memoir, Refuge, well remember that mother. She was one of a large Mormon clan in northern Utah who developed cancer as a result of the nuclear testing in nearby Nevada. It was a shock to Williams to discover that her mother had kept journals. But not as much of a shock as what she found when the time came to read them.  

“They were exactly where she said they would be: three shelves of beautiful cloth-bound books . . . I opened the first journal. It was empty. I opened the second journal. It was empty. I opened the third. It too was empty . . . Shelf after shelf after shelf, all of my mother’s journals were blank.” What did Williams’s mother mean by that? In fifty-four chapters that unfold like a series of yoga poses, each with its own logic and beauty, Williams creates a lyrical and caring meditation of the mystery of her mother's journals. When Women Were Birds is a kaleidoscope that keeps turning around the question “What does it mean to have a voice?”


Note: blank pages are intentional.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:32 -0400)

In fifty-four chapters that unfold like a series of yoga poses, each with its own logic and beauty, Williams (beloved author of "Refuge") creates a lyrical and caring meditation of the mystery of her mother's journals .. and what it means to have a voice beyond a selfless existence informed by children and a husband.… (more)

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