In the Body of the World by Eve Ensler. Publisher: Metropolitan Books (2013). Memoir. Hardcover. 240 pages. ISBN 978-0-8050-9518-0.
Eve Ensler has long been an advocate for women and women’s bodies. Traveling around the world, she’s empowering women to speak about themselves and value their bodies. Ensler founded V-Day—a global movement to end violence against women and girls. She wrote the award-winning The Vagina Monologues and The Good Body. Ensler writes about cancer in a beautiful, compassionate style that connects her body to the earth and connects her healing process to her plans to help other women to heal. She divides the memoir into scans of her body correlating with her experience creating a learning center/sanctuary for women in the Congo.
As one might expect when someone’s fighting off an aggressive cancer– surgeons removed seventy nodes, fallopian tubes, cervix, ovaries, sections of colon, uterus, rectum and part of her vagina—there are high and low moments. Humor. Love. Giving. Beauty. Anger. Loneliness. Regret. Sometimes this reads like a stream of consciousness diary. She’s extremely candid about uterine cancer and every aspect of her treatment process—from surgery to getting a buzz cut to having a central port line placed to chemotherapy to being surrounded by loved ones to being alone and scared.
“I am a pool of pus on a couch. I have two bags now: One drains the abscess, the other, poop. The infection and the antibiotics and Xanax have made me weak and I have lost my appetite.”
Not only is this a memoir in which a strong women shares her personal journey back from the worst possible experience but it’s a battle cry. It’s an urging to be involved in the community, to do more, to be impassioned, to speak up, to dare, to help others and to be the change within. It will move you beyond anything. I cried when I finished reading it.
“And those of you who can live without will survive. Those of you who can be naked, without a bank account, a known future, or even a place to call home. Those of you who can live without and find your meaning here, here, wherever here is. Knowing the only destination is change. The only port is where we are going. The second wind may take what you think you need or want the most, and what you lost and how you lost it will determine if you survive.”
–review by Amy Steele
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Henry Holt.