THE RED WORD.
THE RED WORD
The Red Word centres on the experiences of Karen Huls, a student in her sophomore year at college where she is stuck between two worlds: one involves the women of her feminist house at Raghurst, and the other involves the fraternity next door, Gamma Beta Chi--also known as Gang Bang Central--where she parties.
This novel illuminates the realities of campus life and the challenges associated with being a female university student today. On one hand, in her home, Karen is taken by a group of young, woke gender-studies students as they navigate what it means to be a woman on campus. On the other hand, she explores what it means to participate and belong in a fraternity culture.
Canadian author Sarah Henstra shows us a thoughtful student who is challenging mainstream theories of gender, race, social justice and inequality--all while experiencing the privileges of a white woman negotiating the ivory tower. Henstra expertly crafts the experiences of the young women at Raghurst, so much so that it took me back to my own undergrad women's studies days. Characters in The Red Word challenge mainstream ideology, even as they are deeply steeped within the society and expectations of the norms that they resist.
These gender studies students think through theories of masculinity and femininity and they worship professors believed to be breaking down patriarchal systems. As young women on campus, they also experience the tensions of dating, partying and studying on campus. Karen wrestles with the experiences of living at the Raghurst house--the mecca of white women's spirituality on campus--while navigating her relationships with the frat boys next door.
Karen breaks down her assumptions and stereotypes at the same time she experiences typical feelings of belonging, community and wanting to be liked. The Red Word is an important story about gender, sexuality, violence and campus culture especially relevant for life in a #MeToo world.
REVIEW BY MANJEET BIRK