An Untamed State by Roxane Gay



I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn’t.  The characters were not believable.  The main character, Mireille, is a Haitian American woman who visits her wealthy parents in Haiti along with her American husband and infant son. While there, she is kidnapped and held for ransom, but her father refuses to pay on principle.  She is held for 13 days, and she suffers all of the horrible things you could imagine happening to a woman kidnapped by a group of ruthless men.  The story itself is compelling and dramatic.  There were times it made me cry, and I certainly wanted to see what happened, but Mireille is just not realistic.  She’s too passionate and colorful before her kidnapping, too injured and crazed afterwards.  There’s no subtlety to it.  I didn’t underline a single passage, which is highly unusual for me, and I think speaks to the type of writing used in the book – simplistic, unbeautiful.  The short sentences –  rather than make the story feel fast paced and raw – seemed gimmicky.  An Untamed State got a lot of attention when it was released, so I was really looking forward to it, and I almost went ahead and bought Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist when I bought An Untamed State, but now I’m glad I didn’t.