DiscoverWomen's Fiction

The Sum of All Things

By

Not for me 😔

The Me Too movement provides the foundation for this conflicted story of two women, previously strangers, drawn together by motherhood.

Wren, a homeless addict, prefers to be invisible, the way “all the men of her past [want] women to be.” But avoiding attention is difficult when the ghosts in her head haunt her with graphic images and painful sensations, pushing her to know how it feels to “welcome death after a lifetime of men looming [...] controlling every aspect of their lives.” Heroin is the key to quieting the ghosts, but an unexpected pregnancy prevents Wren from seeking another hit. Alex Monahan, a childfree career woman, knows her male colleagues call her “ballbuster” and “bitch” behind her back. Despite being a powerhouse in her field, she can’t shake the feeling that she could be doing something more with her life. When the sexual advances of a male coworker become unbearable, Alex abandons her hard-earned career and impulsively invites Wren to live with her. Together, both women tap into their feminine strengths to forge a path to a better future.

 

Though Brooks succeeds at putting a personal face on the global issue of gender inequality, the narrative is marred by contradictory themes and a confused understanding of race and gender. A biracial character wonders if she’s “mulatto” and is later describe as acting like a “stubborn mule.” A woman births her rapist’s baby and, with no other context of its origin given, realizes “she had been right when she guessed the baby’s father was likely black.” A transgender character is said to “think” he’s a man in a woman’s body. Dismantling the patriarchy and empowering women in the name of equality is a central theme, yet to find happiness as a fully liberated woman, Alex realizes, she must embrace “what it [means] to be female. To carry and give that soul-saving, unconditional divine love,” invoking a circumscribed, antiquated definition of femininity. The final tipping point is a message that burdens victims, rather than assailants, with the responsibility of enacting change regarding sexual assault: “The world needed those who had been hurt the worst to forgive and make it all better.”


The Sum of All Things appears well intentioned, striving to liberate women and promote equality, but it suffers from dated ideals for working women, muddled themes on femininity, and several small but unforgivable grievances relating to race and gender identity.



Reviewed by

Once there was a girl with unkempt hair and knobby knees who spent her summers sipping honeysuckle blooms and staining her mouth with blackberries plucked from the vine. One day, she opened a book and tumbled into a realm of stories from whence she never returned.

About the author

Before turning to writing, Nicole Brooks was an Environmental Scientist. Now a full-time mother, Nicole tries to fit writing into her life every minute the kids are at school. She is a hobby artist and nature enthusiast who lives with her family just outside Calgary, Alberta. view profile

Published on November 01, 2019

Published by

80000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Women's Fiction

Reviewed by