When Woman Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill

Hello Readers,

At the risk of a bad pun When Woman Were Dragons dug its claws into me and didn’t let me go. When I started reading the book, I kept sending voice notes to the Other Lauren about how beautiful this book was.

This book is set in an alternate 1950s America, where one day thousands of women and girls spontaneously transform into Dragons. This book skilfully explores self-acceptance, the importance of sisterhood, love, and relationships. This book also explores how silence is not acceptable with ongoing injustice and inequality. 

It was effortless being captivated by Kelly’s atmospheric writing style and the intricately detailed world building in this book. The story was charming and made me feel all the emotions dear Reader. Throughout the book there are historical accounts, newspaper clippings and other “classified” dragon related items that enhance the world building.

This was a lovely book about the changes we go through to become ourselves, talking about uncomfortable things, and accepting ourselves and those around us as they are. Shout out to Kelly for telling a feminist story and including trans people. This is one of them feminist books where you can count on one hand the men you wouldn’t slap round the face.

One thing that did make me giggle a little through the book was the ability as a species we have to ignore the elephant in the room. The Mass Dragoning happened in 1955 hundreds of thousands of wives, mothers, and other women, sprouted wings, scales, talons, and took to the skies, leaving in a path of fiery destruction behind. How did we deal with this as a species we ignored it, not even a single news story on the tv, radio or paper.  We all saw it but chose to say nothing. The dragons came back and tried to go back to their normal lives guess what dear Reader? We ignored them. I am sorry but if there is a dragon in a 10-mile radius of me I am off for a look and I am going to be friends with them.

The book is kinda Alex’s memoir we follow her from her childhood, her experience of The Mass Dragoning and how these events affected the lives of those left behind. I empathised with Alex more than I thought as I felt everything along sider her during this emotional journey. 

This book ending destroyed me dear Reader, not in a cute single tear down the cheeky way I mean full Kim K crying. I can count on my hand the books I have reviewed that made my cry at the end and its less than 5. There is something so beautiful about letting people go so they become their better self, and this book fully embodied that towards the end. The ending was so perfect but beautifully sad at the same time it’s so hard to explain I don’t think my tears were sad tears more like peaceful tears.

If this allergy disorder gives me the chance to change into a dragon, I’m off see you later.   

L x

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