I am a storm-skinned child. I cannot hold back all the wild temper inside me.
I’ve been so excited for this full length novel-in-verse from Nikita Gill. I’ve read and adored some other verse novels lately, mostly from Elizabeth Acevedo, and so when I heard my favourite poet would be writing one, I knew I had to have it.
Rating: 4.5 stars!
Thanks to Ebury Press for the eARC of this book, it has not affected my honest review.
Trigger Warnings, taken from the front of the book: anxiety, bigotry, biphobia, body shaming, bullying, child abuse, depression, guilt, homophobia, internalised misogyny, misogyny/sexism, poverty, racism, sexual assault, terrorism, violence, war.
About the book:
Meet Paro. A girl with a strong will, a full heart, and much to learn. Born into a family reeling from the ruptures of Partition in India, we follow her as she crosses the precarious lines between childhood, teenage discovery, and realizing her adult self. In the process, Paro must confront fear, desire and the darkest parts of herself in the search for meaning and, ultimately, empowerment.
What did I think?
I honestly have never requested anything so fast. I love Nikita Gill’s work so much and I always wait impatiently for the next thing she produces. I saw this one and instantly requested, and the second my review copy came through I abandoned what I was already reading so I could dig in. The Girl and the Goddess is a little different than Nikita’s previous work, as it’s actually a full novel told in verse. Still I devoured it just as quickly as ever, because Nikita’s storytelling is as lyrical and beautiful in a full length novel as it is in instagram snippets and the poetry anthologies.
The Girl and the Goddess is packed with stories within a story. Paro is told the stories of her gods and goddesses throughout her life, the deities appearing to her when she most needs the lesson that they have to offer her. I don’t know much at all about Hindu deities and mythology, or, in all honesty, much about the partition of India other than what I’ve learned this year through a little online reading. While that’s not the focus of this book by any means, I found it both accessible and intriguing. I got enough information that I didn’t feel lost at all in the story, but I’ve still finished the book with a strong desire to raid my library for books on Hindu mythology. Each of the deities stories were heartwarming and distinct in tone, and I liked the way that they knitted into Paro’s story neatly to show Paro relating to her faith at different times of difficulty in her life. I also liked that the deities addressed inconsistencies in their stories, and how myths can reflect the intentions and biases of the storyteller.
While there’s a lot of ways that I obviously can’t relate to Paro personally (as an extremely white British reviewer), I felt the queerness and self-discovery in this book vividly. The struggle of a loving, but not understanding, family is one I identify with in a lot of ways and I loved the way that Paro learned to empower herself but was still tied to her family closely. I also got excellent found family vibes from the friendship group, and we all know that I’ll do literally anything for a group of queer women supporting each other. Paro’s story was wonderful and beautiful, even in the painfully raw parts, and I loved the whole thing fiercely. It has all the magic of Nikita Gill’s usual retellings, plus an interesting and vivid story of self-discovery, and I wish I could have had a copy of this in my hands when I was a confused and worried queer teenage girl. The illustrations are particularly gorgeous and I can’t wait to see a finished copy of this book so I can see them properly on the page.
Release date: 1st October 2020.