Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon: A Review

“O, what a thing to be reduced to your truest nature, to be once more a dog whimpering in the night, clinging to battle-worn pups, the vessel of your body transformed into a tunnel for viscera.”

I love Rivers Solomon. There is something so poignant and aching about every word they write. I feel sometimes like I’m reading words that were bled onto the page, that Rivers Solomons pen had been filled with blood instead of ink. Every word they write has power to it. Their words take up space in the most magnificent way.

Sorrowland follows Vern, who was raised in a commune called Cainland. Escaping while pregnant, she gives birth to twins in the woods, and the story follows how she grapples with the secrets of where she came from and who she is.

The last book I read from Rivers Solomon was The Deep, and Sorrowland takes a lot of the themes that The Deep introduced and presents them with more time to discuss it. The discussions and themes of intergenerational trauma and individualism vs. community are less on the forefront as they were in The Deep, but I think this is Sorrowland’s greatest success. Rivers Solomon does not write so that you will have an easy read, but so that you will live within the characters and ask yourself very real questions about the world around you. I love the way Rivers Solomon’s themes are woven into every word.

Sorrowland grabs you by the throat and pulls you in, keeping you in suspsense until the last word. It’s an adventure, a visceral survival experience that puts you in the perspective of the central character and allows you to feel all Vern’s anxieties, fears, and ultimately, triumphs.

Frankly, I can’t encapsulate just how impactful this book was with mere words. You’ll simply have to read it yourself.

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