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Book Review: These Women by Ivy Pochoda

Rating 4/5

“These women, beautiful, wild, and out of control…”

At first glance, and like other readers, I assumed this was a serial killer mystery. But it wasn’t, not really. This read more like a gritty, urban drama. The plot was simply just a background. The real story here was that of the women. Or should I say, ‘these women.’

In 1999, thirteen women are murdered, including a teenage girl named Lisha. Another woman, Ophelia survives her attack, and fifteen years later, the murders begin again. This book follows the lives of five women who all connect in some way. Dorian, the mother of eighteen-year-old Lisha who was the killer’s last victim. Julianna, the girl who Lisha babysat when she was a kid who grows up to be an exotic dancer/sex-worker. Essie, a cop who faces her own discrimination and issues with the police force, Marella, an artist who is captivated and artistically influenced by the gritty world of being a woman in LA. Anneke, a mother and wife suffering from secrets, and then we have Ophelia. Her story is mixed in-between parts and the narration bounces between past and present and she deals with the trauma of being a survivor.

The killer is eventually revealed, but this story isn’t about them. It’s about the women whose lives are affected by them. Each woman leaving something for the reader to take away from their experiences. Without giving anything away, there was one woman in particular who I found myself hating, but by the end of her story, I oddly found myself empathizing with her. Which is what I believe the author wanted to accomplish with this story. While my favorite character was Ophelia, I found that Julianna and Dorian’s story stuck out the most due to their relationship with one another and their personal losses. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the others. They all had a place, fit well, and connected perfectly.

I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 simply because I felt like it could’ve been a bit shorter. But considering this was a character-driven story, I understand the author’s attention to detail. Truth is, I wasn’t sure if I would even like this book at first, but something about it kept me going. Then I realized that I was invested in these women’s lives. The Killer could’ve never been revealed, and I still would’ve liked it. Although I feel one of the stories wouldn’t have worked the way it did had we not found out who was responsible. My only gripe is that people understand what they are going into when they read this book. If you’re looking for a suspenseful ‘who-done-it’ mystery, this might not be the book for you. But if you love social dramas that go deep into the lives of the victims, then you will like this book.

You can find it on Amazon or Scrib'd.

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