Tuesday, May 23, 2017

#Collaboreads | A Book That Became a Movie

Sharing my thoughts about our latest #collaboreads book! #asgbookshelf

Well, this week seems to be off to a bustling start and already I'm back linking up with Rachel and Kristin for another #Collaboreads party. This month, we are talking about a book that is or will become a movie. If you've been hanging around here for the past few months, you surely know about my author crush on Roxane Gay, an amazing short story and essay writer. In 2014, she published her first novel, An Untamed State, and has also written the screenplay for the forthcoming film, which is currently in production. So excited for this one!

#Collaboreads | A Book That Became a Movie - A Simpler Grace

An Untamed State
by Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is a powerful new literary voice whose short stories and essays have already earned her an enthusiastic audience. In An Untamed State, she delivers an assured debut about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over thirteen days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.

Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.

An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a willful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed State establishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent. - Goodreads description

What part of the book could you not get enough of?

The entire book was riveting, let's be real. The idea of a woman being kidnapped in a country in which she does not reside, by men who want money from her family that will not be given to them and what she has to endure during the thirteen days of her captivity makes for a darn good story. Not only is she sexually assaulted by multiple abductors, but she also has to process the knowledge that her father will not pay her ransom and therefore, allows her bondage and abuse to continue. One thing I really loved about how Gay wrote this novel is that the thirteen days she is gone is only part of the story. She comes home and has to deal with what has happened to her and try to move on with life and anyone who has any kind of empathy will realize what a challenge that would be.

How did you relate to/care for the characters? What are your thoughts on the plot line and twists and turns?

I connected with Mireille so much during this entire story. She was such a well-written and powerful character who was both feminine and strong, simultaneously. Many times, I've felt that female protagonists are written to be either one or the other, but very rarely both. In the very first chapter, when she and her family are pulling out of her parents' estate in Haiti and are surrounded by the kidnappers, her first instinct was to shield her husband when a gun was pointed at him and then try to protect her child while she was being dragged out of the car.

I also found myself connecting with her husband, Michael, who is a farm boy from the midwest and clearly does not fit in with her family. He is appalled that his father-in-law would not take every step necessary to ensure his daughter's safe return and when she is finally released, he struggles to balance keeping their lives running while also being there for his wife as she grieves and heals from her experience. I felt for him.

What other books are like this one? If none, did it remind you of a particular tv show or movie with its themes and characters? Does it serendipitously line up with things going on in your life or in the news right now?

Other than an episode of "Criminal Minds" or "Law & Order," the only other piece of entertainment I could equate this to would be the film, Taken. In that movie, a young girl and her friend are traveling in Paris and are abducted by human traffickers. Fortunately for them, Liam Neeson plays her retired-CIA father who hunts their assailants down, which is not the case for Mireille in An Untamed State, but the situations the women face are quite similar.

You know you judged this book by the cover. What did you think of it? How did it relate to the contents of the novel? And the font and layout of the pages?

I read the Kindle book and listened to the audiobook, but I believe the covers are the same across the board. I thought the book cover was well designed and portrayed the story appropriately. In the image, you see a woman running and looking behind her as if escaping from something, It appears that she is in a heavily-wooded "jungle" type of setting. What stands out to me, though, is the use of color and shading in this cover design. It almost lends a grunginess to the image, which could be representative of the extreme poverty in Haiti and maybe even lead you to wonder what someone would have to be struggling with in order to decide to kidnap someone for money. You definitely feel the desperation in the design of the book cover.

STARS | ★★★★★
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Five stars, all the way. Roxane Gay's writing is so descriptive and fluid that you really feel like you are Mireille. The writing is so strong, that there are parts I found very difficult to read, specifically the sexual assault she endures during her captivity. While some may not care for these scenes, I think they are necessary in order for you to fully emotionally grasp what she is going through and at the end of the day, that's what you want from a good book. You want to get lost in the story and you definitely will with this one. (Trigger warnings: for someone who is sensitive to sexual assault, this book might be overwhelming for you, so please read with care.)

This post is part of the #Collaboreads linkup with Rachel and Kristin. For more info on how you can participate, visit Rachel's page for details.

The post #Collaboreads | A Book That Became a Movie first appeared on A Simpler Grace. If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your friends!


  1. Some of the themes sound like they might be a bit tough going, but I guess the reality is, unfortunately these things do happen to some people. I really enjoyed Taken, so even though I know the stories aren't the same, I'm sure I would enjoy the book!

  2. shootingstarsmagMay 23, 2017 at 9:14 PM

    I forgot Roxane Gay had a novel - I've read her book Bad Feminist and she mentions it in there. I pre-ordered her book Hungry and I'm going to meet her in July, so I'm excited. I'm glad to hear you like this one.


  3. Jessica BradshawMay 23, 2017 at 9:22 PM

    I love reading books before they are moviesl This one sounds so good.

  4. Yes, it is tough reading through parts of it, but like I said above, it's worth it to understand her perspective. There were a lot of lighter parts though, so it is well balanced.

  5. I cannot wait until Hunger comes out. How lucky are you to get to meet her! Every time she's been in my area, I've not been around.

  6. Me too! Then I play the comparison game between the two. lol

  7. Divya @ Eat. Teach. Blog.May 24, 2017 at 7:31 AM

    I've gotta check this out! We've got a long flight ahead of us so I will have plenty of time to read!

  8. It would be a good read for a flight. Hope you enjoy it!

  9. This sounds fascinating! Thanks for linking up with us, friend! :)