Unique and moving

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The first thing you need to know about "Enter the Body" by Joy McCullough is that it's a novel written primarily as poetry. The second thing you need to know is that it's truly wonderful! Even if you're not a big poetry reader, I suggest you give this book a try....I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

In an unusual premise, the story takes place under the stage (in the Trap Room" of a theater where Shakespeare's plays are performed). The characters are women from these plays who are basically dumped there after being given little character development followed by horrible deaths in the stories being played out above them.

Our story begins when these women actually begin interacting with one another, and decrying the system that lets their stories and fates be dictated by men who don't even care about them. Each major character (Juliet, Ophelia, and Cordelia) tells the traditional version of her story in a series of lovely poems. Then, they start talking amongst themselves and decide to take back control of their own narratives. This is followed by more poetry in which each woman gives herself the ending she'd have written for herself...

...except for Lavinia (from Titus Andronicus); her original story was so truly horrifying that she is literally left without a voice to contribute.

Enjoy the stories, both the originals and the improved versions. Enjoy the beautiful poetry. Most of all, enjoy these historical characters empowering themselves. Walk away thinking about the importance of telling your own story, and what it means to challenge the status quo. Think about why some people believe they have the right to dictate other peoples' stories for them. Think about what you can do to be part of the change and give someone else a chance to have a voice.

This is a powerful and emotionally moving novel. I've read quite a bit in the sub-genre of "retelling a famous story from the perspective of a minor character", so I wasn't expecting anything truly new in this one. I am pleased to say I was wrong. I found myself feeling true empathy for these fictional women, and was surprised at how moved I was by their stories and conversations.

Absolutely 5 chunks of perfect cheddar!