A Gang of Feminist Outlaws in the Wild West? Yes, Please!
Last year, while managing the purge, sale, pack-out and general insanity that was involved in culling our possessions to manage the move from a 10,000 square foot house to a 3,000 square foot apartment...I discovered audiobooks. For a few months in early 2020, I listened obsessively while I worked, walked, drove, ran, and even while I cooked and cleaned. My go-to for suggestions was the Reese's Hello Sunshine book club list. Only once was I truly disappointed. As 2020 wore on, I listened less to audiobooks and more to podcasts, and Reese's Book Club suggestions fell completely off my radar. However, I promised myself I would read more this year, and I upped my Goodreads goal closer to where it was in 2017 and 2018. Naturally, I deferred to Reese's expertise when it came time to choose what I would listen to.
Enter Outlawed. A book I'd never heard of, would have told you I was not interested in, and yet...I really loved. Below is my original review for Goodreads:
4 stars. Chosen because I needed something light, and I can always count on Reese's Book Club recommendations to quench my light book thirst. I was extra satisfied with this choice because the writing is fantastic. Outlawed is the story of Ada, a girl born in the Dakota Territories in the late 1800s and raised by her midwife mother in a God-fearing, Baby-Jesus-worshipping, misogynistic pioneer settlement. Ada is lucky to be wed to a man she likes, finds handsome and attractive , and who supports her continued apprenticeship to her mother. But when, after a year, Ada does not conceive, she is cast out as a witch and blamed for the childlessness and illnesses that befall women and babies alike. Ada is sent to a convent, common practice for barren women, and must learn to co-exist with the sisters. Ada becomes a transcriber, copying books in the library and doing ongoing business with the bookseller on behalf of the convent. Eventually, the Mother Superior gives Ada the choice to either take her vows or go out and make another life. Ada dreams of learning the science and reason behind fertility and the lack thereof. In her readings, she learns of a famous surgeon in the Colorado Territories who studies these ailments and longs to go and learn from her. The Mother can't make Ada's dream a reality but she does send her out with the Bookseller to join the Hole in the Wall Gang.
Having grown up the child of a lover of Westerns, and married to a man who watches them nearly every weekend; despite the fact that I've never sat and watched any of them in their entirety; even I knew that the Hole in the Wall Gang is an infamous group of bank robbers that was led by Billy the Kid. In this telling, the gang is led by "The Kid". Only there's no Paul Newman in this gang, and "the Kid" is definitely not what you might envision. Rather-it's a rebellious gang of outcasts, spinsters, accused witches, queers and unapologetic feminists. I'm 100% here for it. Ada's incorporation into the gang and their exploits and experiences are gripping, fun, and a truly unique and interesting take on a genre that typically would be decidedly not my thing. The stories are both heartbreaking, eye-opening and they make you say "Go Girls"! I truly enjoyed this book and will recommend it. As always, Reese's Book Club did not disappoint. I hope they will make this one into a movie. (Edited to add I read that it will be made into a TV show)!!