Tuesday 16 July 2019

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Blog Tour: My Personal Response to Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan Blog Tour Graphic

My Personal Response to Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

This post contains affiliate links.

I received an eProof of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Today is my stop on the blog tour for the paperback release of Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan, and I'm going to give you something different. This book meant more to me than I can ever really put into words, but I'm going to try in the form of a letter to Natasha. This is quite an emotional post that had me crying while writing it, so be warned.

Trigger Warnings: This post discusses rape and sexual assault.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha NganDear Natasha,

I wanted to write to you to tell you about the affect Girls of Paper and Fire had on me. I read it in November 2018, and I still can't stop thinking about it. My reading roots are in high fantasy, so there was always going to be a strong possibility that I would love Girls of Paper and Fire, but I didn't realise just how much.

While Girls of Paper and Fire is an incredible queer high fantasy, inspired by you Chinese Malaysian background - all of which initially drew me to your book - it was how you tackled rape and sexual violence that had a profound affect on me. I was sexually assaulted as an 11-year-old, and it took until a few years ago to realise that I've probably never completely dealt with how it made me feel. I was completely bowled over by Lei's story; how she is taken from her home and forced to become a concubine of the Demon King; how she new she would have to have sex with him, even though she didn't want to; how she knew, unless she could find a way out of it, she would be raped. There is a sense of foreboding throughout the novel, and of claustrophobia as it feels like the walls are closing in the more Lei struggles to fight a fate that seems inevitable. And when it happens, although our experiences differ, I related to Lei's fear, despair and pain. And though my heart broke for her, and broke again for myself, there was an overwhelming sense of relief of being seen and understood, of knowing someone knows how this feels, and is able to put it into words. It was like having someone take my hand, and say, "I know, I get it. And it's ok."

But not only is it a book about a survivor learning to overcome the pain in a world of oppression, it's also about the healing power of love. I don't believe a single person could read of Lei and Wren's f/f relationship and not have their heart warmed by the beauty of it. The gentleness and passion between the two women it so gorgeous it hurts, and such a contrast to what befalls Lei at the hands of the Demon King. In the wake of rape, the tenderness, the acceptance, the support is too beautiful for words. It's both heartbreaking and heartmending, in a time of pain and vulnerability, and just thinking about it brings me to tears. Their love - love in it's purest, brightest form - is the light in the darkness of their world. Despite the danger they would be in were they to be discovered, it's their love that gives Lei her strength, the one thing she can hold on to, to keep her head above the surface when she might otherwise drown.

And watching Lei take that strength and find the determination to take a stand was so empowering. As a sexual assault survivor, it was highly emotional to witness Lei's resolve, and see her make the decision to fight against her oppressors and abusers. How she would not roll over, how she would not accept that this was her fate. Girls of Paper and Fire brought back the memories of feeling violated, of feeling scared and lost, of despair and the undeniable feeling that some intrinsic part of me had been lost, was missing. But it was also so cathartic, and after all this time, so healing. I felt I stood beside Lei, and she stood beside me, in our own fights against those who have tried to break us. I can't begin to describe what it meant, and still means, to me. It's overwhelming; the pride in Lei, gaining strength from her strength, and finding my own resilience. I only wish I had this book back when I was 11, when I needed it most. No other book that tackles sexual violence has had such a healing affect on me.

I'm never going to be able to really express just how important a novel Girls of Paper and Fire. To think of all the other people who now have the chance to find this book when they need it, the relief and gratitude I feel is staggering.

You've not just written a story, you've written a doorway to hope and healing, and I am never going to be able to thank you enough for the gift of this book.

Thank you, so very much.


Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha NganGirls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It's the highest honor they could hope for...and the most cruel.

But this year, there's a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she's made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it's Lei they're after--the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king's interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king's consort. But Lei isn't content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable--she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.

Presented by James Patterson, Natasha Ngan's lyrical, searing, visceral fantasy, Girls of Paper and Fire, will remind us how precious freedom is--and the price we must pay to achieve it.
From Goodreads.

Book Depository | Wordery | Goodreads

You can check out my review of Girls Made of Paper and Fire, and a post inspired by a thread Natasha Ngan wrote on Why We Need YA that Features Sexual Violence.

Be sure to visit Natasha's website, follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and check out - I implore you! - Girls of Paper and Fire, which was published on paperback on 11th July! And make sure you visit all the other stops on the blog tour!

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan Paperback Blog Tour Banner

You may also like:

Naondel by Maria Turtschaninoff The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed I Stop Somewhere by T. E. Carter Sadie by Courtney Summers

Over to you graphic
Have you ever had a deeply personal reaction to a book? Which book/s? What are your thoughts on YA featuring sexual violence? Have you read Girls of Paper and Fire? What did you think? Are you as eagerly anticipating the sequel, Girls of Storm and Shadow, publishing in November, as me? Let me know in the comments!

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