9 books about women and trauma

From Maya Angelou's autobiography to Louise O'Neills best selling novel Asking For It

By Clodagh Meaney


Tales of trauma are important. They often help survivors to validate their own experiences as well as reiterating that pain and often grief demands to be felt.


As a trauma survivor, I often find great solace in reading about the experiences of my peers, as novelists and writers can put into words the feelings I sometimes cannot concretize.


Here are 9 books that depict trauma while also paying respect to the experience of survivors.


Needlework by Deirdre O'Sullivan


Ces longs to be a tattoo artist who embroiders beautiful images on skin. But for now, this Irish teen just wants to make it to adulthood without falling apart at the seams.


Needlework is the story of how one young woman tries to keep herself sewn together in the face of abuse and neglect.


Things I Learned from Falling by Claire Nelson


In her thirties and beginning to burn out from her life in London, anxiety finally brought Claire Nelson to the edge before she decided to take time off and travel to California.


It was there, in Joshua Tree Park when she went hiking to clear her head, Claire fell 30 feet - injuring herself. She lay on the desert floor for four days without any way to contact emergency services, fighting for her life and living off her own urine.


She was miraculously rescued with doctors saying she would have only survived a few more hours had she not been found, this is a tale of endurance and desperation to survive.



Asking For It by Louise O'Neill


Asking For It is a harrowing tale of rape and public shaming.


Emma O'Donovan an eighteen-year-old girl from small-town Ireland and the morning after the night before, her parents find her on their doorstep dishevelled, bleeding and unconscious.


To Emma's distress, she doesn't remember what happened. That's until a Facebook account, Easy Emma appears that has shared photos of her missing memories.


My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell


When Vanessa was 15 she was groomed and raped by her 42-year-old English teacher Jacob Strane.


17 years later, more women are coming forward with their stories of abuse. Grappling between what she thought she knew about their relationship and the stark reality of her circumstances and the trauma that followed it, Vanessa must decide whether or not she will share her experience validate the stories of the other young women.


An Untamed State by Roxane Gay



Mireille Duval Jameson is the strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life.

One day, Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s estate.


Held captive Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, she must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.



How It Feels To Float by Helena Fox


A heartbreaking, yet accurate depiction of PTSD and disassociation, Biz is trying to figure out her sexuality all while dealing with the repercussions of her father's death.


Biz doesn't tell anyone anything. Despite having her mother, her twin siblings, her dad and her best friend Grace, she keeps her dark thoughts to herself.


Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams


Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, who fits in with neither Jamaican or British cultures.


Working at a newspaper, Queenie is forced to compare herself to her white middle calls peers. After a complicated break up from her long-term white boyfriend, there are many facets to her grief. Seeking comfort in all the wrong places she eventually finds herself in therapy trying to figure herself out.


Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow



At seventeen, Charlotte Davis has already lost more people than most lose in their lifetime. To cope, she's learned how to forget.


A story of love, loss and self-harm, this Girl in Pieces has to find her way back from the edge.


I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou


In Maya Angelou's first autobiography she recounts being sent with her brother to live with her grandmother in a small Southern town.


After enduring abandonment by the time she is eight years old, she returns to her mother's side in St. Louis.


Maya is then attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime.


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