ROAR - by Cecelia Ahern

cecelia ahern - women's fiction - roar - feminism
ROAR - Cecelia Ahern
Published: November 2018 - HarperCollins.
Genres: Adult / women's fiction / magical realism.
Pages: 352.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Sexual content / bad language.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. I voluntarily read & reviewed this copy. All thoughts are my own.

I am woman. Hear me roar. 

Have you ever imagined a different life? Have you ever stood at a crossroads, undecided? Have you ever had a moment when you wanted to roar? The women in these startlingly original stories are all of us: the women who befriend us, the women who encourage us, the women who make us brave. From The Woman Who Slowly Disappeared to The Woman Who Was Kept on the Shelf and The Woman Who Returned and Exchanged her Husband, discover thirty touching, often hilarious, stories and meet thirty very different women. Each discovers her strength; each realizes she holds the power to make a change. 

Cecelia Ahern is one of my auto-buy authors. When I saw the subject matter of this book, I needed it even more.

Ahern's writing has always delighted me. Her prose sparkles, her wit bites, and she's not afraid to make things real while keeping them sensitive. However, I found her writing in this novel a bit......underwhelming. It's still good, don't get me wrong, but it's been better. Maybe because this one is all short stories? I'm not sure. But there are a number of awkward, fragmented sentences. 

The tone of the book is different from what I was expecting. I blame myself, because maybe I just got the wrong impression from all the marketing buzz, but it definitely isn't as sombre, dark, or serious as I thought it would be. Ahern definitely takes the "lighter" approach, which significantly changes the dynamic of the stories and the theme. Where it could have been serious and gut-wrenching, the tone is instead more light-hearted, soothing, and charming. It's cheesy at times, and it's sugar-coated. Again, not necessarily bad, but not as sobering and real as I expected.

  It's clumsy and imperfect. It's real, it's honest, and it's all she wants."

I love that these are short stories. They're quick and easy to pick up and put down again, their conflicts are easily resolved, and they make for fun, relaxing reading. I think the book would make a wonderful gift for a woman in your life.

The stories are enjoyable. My favourite is "The Woman Who Spoke", which touches on the struggles women face in positions of power and does so in a manner more direct and serious than that of the other tales. It feels more real. It's also worth mentioning, though, that the genre is magical realism. I think that takes away a lot of the realness and impact. This isn't to say that magical realism can't handle serious, real-life issues, but in this book it doesn't quite work. On one hand, Ahern is trying to make important points about gender issues and women's struggles, but at the same time she's throwing in magic and fantasy and make-belief worlds and doing so in a light tone. It's rather contradictory. Not offensive, by any means, but not as powerful as it could have been.

Many of the story topics aren't related exclusively to women or women's struggles, either (which I think takes away from the overall theme). They're still - occasionally - relatable and ironic, but not entirely within the collection's theme.

If you're expecting something serious and profound, I doubt you'll find it in Roar
But if you're ready to relax with an uplifting and amusing collection of short stories about women, then this book is for you.