The Girl In The Road by Monica Byrne

Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Format: Paperback
Published: 20th May 2014
Book Depository | Goodreads

Meena, a young woman living in a futuristic Mumbai, wakes up with five snake bites on her chest. She doesn’t know how or why, but she must flee India and return to Ethiopia, the place of her birth. Having long heard about The Trail — an energy-harvesting bridge that spans the Arabian Sea — she embarks on foot on this forbidden bridge, with its own subculture and rules. What awaits her in Ethiopia is unclear; she’s hoping the journey will illuminate it for her.

Mariama, a girl from a different time, is on a quest of her own. After witnessing her mother’s rape, she joins up with a caravan of strangers heading across Saharan Africa. She meets Yemaya, a beautiful and enigmatic woman who becomes her protector and confidante. Yemaya tells Mariama of Ethiopia, where revolution is brewing and life will be better. Mariama hopes against hope that it offers much more than Yemaya ever promised.

This book is essentially a road trip story. We meet the main character Meena as she is running away from her home (in India) and going on a journey to Djibouti to find out what happened to her parents. She does this by walking across a 3000 km bridge connecting Mumbai and Djibouti. But this isn’t really a bridge, and she isn’t really meant to be on it. It’s a series of interconnecting scales crossing the Arabian Sea which uses the waves to collect kinetic energy and turn it into electricity.

I think the thing I enjoyed most about this book is it’s diversity. The main character is Indian. It deals with racism between Indians and Africans. It’s very open about sexuality, the main character being pansexual. It also has a trans character, I quite liked that nothing was made of it. Just oh this person is now a woman no big deal. It even touches on problems like how do you do the toilet in the middle of the ocean and what is this character going to do about her periods since she is almost certainly going to have one while on this journey. This is one thing that has really started to annoy me about sci-fi, most of it is written by men, most of it is about white people (also usually men) so it’s really nice to finally come across a sci-fi book that does something different.

The only thing that let this book down was the epilogue. Simply because it was confusing and left more questions than answers. You could actually not read the epilogue and still get full, if not more enjoyment out of this book. Basically if I have to go search the internet to find out what’s going on in the epilogue it’s not a good epilogue. But I liked everything else.

Thanks for reading.
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