I don’t usually read books like this, and when it was sent to me, I was wary about what it would be like. However, despite my reservations, I decided to read it, and I’m glad I did.
Crossroads is a collection of autobiographical essays written by Ugandan women, describing their lives and the difficulties they have encountered. The selection of topics discussed is broad, relating to both ‘Ugandan’ issues and universal ones – from sex, sexuality and gender roles to NGOs, torture and corporal punishment. The women, living in modern Uganda, insightfully describe Western influences versus traditional customs, exploring their benefits and drawbacks.
The authors of Crossroads, writing passionately yet with measure and control, explore the nuanced reality of living as modern, Ugandan women. The book’s brevity is powerful, because none of the stories are boring or drawn-out; the purpose of the collection is to highlight impactful parts of the women’s lives, relating to a theme. This focus ensures that the reader is not overwhelmed by an excess of information, and can freely come to their own conclusion about the importance of western values in traditional societies like Uganda.
My favourite of the stories is ‘No time for pain’, which is written in the second person; it describes a woman’s isolation as she struggles to live a normal life with the memory of her war-torn childhood. Her account of grief and detachment is well-written and easy to relate to, and is complimented by her well-considered commentary on the long-term effects of war and refugee camps on the society she lives in.
I urge you to read Crossroads if you are interested in Ugandan life and stories about women’s coming-of-age. This collection of essays is readable and fairly short; it is appropriate for mid-teenagers and older.
My Ratings (out of 10 As):
Thanks to Christopher Conte for providing me with a digital copy of this fascinating collection of essays for review.