Every book lover I know, at some time or another, has sought solace in a book. I Choose Elena, a long-form literary essay from Lucia Osborne-Crowley, explores that impulse at its very extreme.
For over a decade, Osborne-Crowley suffered horrific, debilitating symptoms stemming back to a sexual assault in her teens. Now, she expands upon her struggle to come to a place where she could choose what defines her: the actions of a violent man, the illness of her body, or the joy and wonder she found in the works of writers like Elena Ferrante. As the title might suggest, she chooses Elena. Allen & Unwin were kind enough to send me a copy for review.
You don’t need to be familiar with Ferrante (or any other of the dozens of writers Osborne-Crowley references) to find yourself deeply immersed and irrevocably moved by this story.
It’s not often that a book will bring me to tears, even less so a literary essay, but this one did (more than once): tears of anguish, tears of fury, tears of gratitude.
I Choose Elena is a must-read for fans of Fiona Wright, Gabrielle Jackson, and Bri Lee.