Last year a friend gave me ‘Roar’ by Cecelia Ahern, a collection of 30 stories. I only got around to it this year, and that too because of the lockdown. I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if I could have gotten my hands on some of the titles I’d been meaning to read. But Roar had me hooked from the start. I couldn’t believe this gem of a book had been sitting on my bookshelf for so long and I had always overlooked it.
I actually didn’t have high expectations from Roar as I wasn’t particularly fond of Ahern’s bestselling ‘PS I Love You’. The anthology has, however, managed to put Ahern on my list of favorite storytellers. Roar was great fun and I found myself smiling—often ear to ear—while reading the stories.
The highly imaginative stories—with touches of magical realism or science fiction—are uplifting and insightful. You can see yourself, or women in your lives, in these stories. Ahern’s writing might not be beautiful but it’s empathetic and relatable.
‘The Women Who Wore Pink’ lives in a dystopian world where there are strict gender codes. ‘The Woman Who Grew Wings’ struggles to fit in when she moves to America with her family. ‘The Woman Who Ordered the Seabass Special’ teaches a lisping waitress to embrace her flaws. ‘The Women Who Slowly Disappeared’ goes to South Africa to meet a woman consultant who treats unseen middle-aged women. ‘The Woman Who Was Kept on a Shelf’ sits next to her husband’s trophies, first being admired and eventually ignored over the years of her marriage. The ‘Woman Who Had a Ticking Clock’ is concerned about her biological clock and it stresses her out unnecessarily.
The premises of Ahern’s stories are simple but they leave a lasting impact. Based on women’s experiences that are rarely discussed, each story has a moral. But what you take away from a story could be very different from what another person might glean from it. A lot of how you perceive a story depends on your unique circumstances and how you view the world and those around you.
I read the book in one go but that’s not what I would recommend you do. It’s best to read these fables one or two at a time. That way you can better enjoy the stories as well as let the messages sink in.