Thanks to Kimberly Ray Copeland for her review of PATIENT WOMEN, to appear in the Midwest Book Review this month.
Poet/novelist Larissa Shmailo's latest offering, Patient Women,
is a raw, unfaltering, fictional story (heavily peppered, no doubt,
with the author’s own personal anecdotes) that follows the tumultuous
life of one highly likeable Nora Nader - a self-deprecating heroine with
an indelible edge.
Nora, the daughter of an overbearing mother and an emotionally detached
father; both Nazi prison camp survivors, is determined to assert
herself and make her way through the world according to her own rules
and regulations. Her whirlwind journey begins in 1970's Queens, NY,
where Nora, at the tender age of 12, leaves home and takes to the
inhospitable streets of NYC.
While battling a plethora of personal
demons, including; sex, drug, and alcohol addiction, as well as severe
depression (“I’m never happy. I always feel like Auschwitz inside”), we
watch in horror as our protagonist devolves from Ivy League student, to
waitress, to prostitute (“The best blow job in NY”).
and emotional abuse is prevalent throughout the course of Nora’s life,
and slowly but surely long-buried secrets are unearthed.
unrelenting determination, and a little help from her friends
(specifically, a drop dead gorgeous drag queen turned AA sponsor named
Chrisis, who assures Nora, in regards to sobriety/recovery, “If I can do
this, anybody can.”) Nora finds herself capable of both physical and
At moments painstakingly heart-wrenching, at others, hopefully poetic, Patient Women
is ultimately an in-your-face tale about the resilience of the human
spirit, in the midst of familial and societal discord, and the ability
to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.
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