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I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman

Posted by George Woods on

Forty women live together in a cage. They have for as long as they can remember, however, no one can remember how they got there. The youngest of them is a teenager and was just a baby when she was imprisoned. She doesn’t know anything about the world outside of her cage. One day, when their capturers open the cage door to give them some food, an alarm goes off and the guards run away. Suddenly these 40 women are free in a world they don’t remember or understand.

This novel got me out of a reading slump. I hadn’t been able to be grabbed by a book in over a month and then I picked this one up off of my ‘to be read’ pile and I was hooked straight away. I wanted to understand what had happened to these women and how they were going to survive a world they had no experience in. I wanted a lot more answers than I got, but the book is so interesting that I didn’t mind being in the dark. I Who Have Never Known Men by Jaqueline Harpman is a solemn novel with a fragile sense of isolation. It gives a whole new meaning to the idea of a dystopia novel. 

Sometimes we all find ourselves following the motions of daily life whether we want to or not. The tasks you have to go through each day like eating, working, exercising can feel so futile and depressing if you’re not in the right headspace. This novel encapsulates the idea of going through the motions of life just to wait for death to arrive and puts a microscope on it. Most of us have had days where our depression or the darker voices get the better of us and maybe I Who Have Never Known Men can help you put some perspective into that. 

I’m glad I read this novel. It got me out of my reading slump and maybe helped me find a new way of looking at the world where I live. I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves dystopian literature and character lead books. 


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