272 pages

English language

Published Sept. 22, 2022 by Coffee House Press.

ISBN:
978-1-56689-621-4
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5 stars (5 reviews)

1 edition

reviewed Jawbone by Mónica Ojeda

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jawbone is genuinely haunting. the prose is incredible. the characters feel real. it's a super impressive piece that will stick with me a long time but i fucking hated actually reading it. the dense walls of text are claustrophobic and physically hard to get through. the constant dancing around sexual violence then very occasionally just bluntly describing abuse is more upsetting than just one or the other would have been. the utter disgust with bodies, treating puberty as body horror, is relatable in the worst way. the complete lack of an ending provides no way out of the feelings the book brings up. that's all on purpose and in some ways it's brilliant, but it's also kind of too upsetting to recommend.

The horror is adolescence

5 stars

Jawbone is translated from Spanish to English. One of the central ideas is female puberty as body horror, like Ginger Snaps without the werewolves. Another piece of the puzzle is the relationship between mothers and daughters. It's splattery, manic and poetic. I was anxious as to what each new chapter would hold. Super duper unsettling, highly recommend.

Fascinating, but not for me

3 stars

I picked up this book because it appeared on a list in The Washington Post of best books that had been recently translated into English. It is in a genre, however, that I don't usually read (horror). So while the technical skill and erudition of the author is obvious, I'm not sure that I was the right target audience for this book. There were some parts that I found compelling, particularly scenes that intermixed a character's present and past interactions with other characters -- it struck me as wholly consonant with the thoughts swirling through one's mind when confronted by people with whom one has had complex or difficult interactions. I am definitely glad that I read it, and the translation is impressive, but someone more interested in horror may find this more to their liking than I did.

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