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The Change by Kirsten Miller is an Empowering Read (book review)

GENRE: Adult Thriller
LENGTH: 480 pages

Young women from Long Island are going missing and it seems a serial killer may be terrorizing the community. It’s up to three women with mystical powers to band together and get justice for the victims.

There are three primarily characters – Harriet, Nessa, and Jo. The three characters aren’t friends at the start of the novel but are brought together by their shared mission to stop the killer.
I’d describe Harriet as being chill but calculating. She was the most complex of the main trio. I didn’t always agree with her actions, but I can’t deny that she was a compelling character to read. She's the kind that keeps you reading. Jo is a business woman who’s also juggling motherhood, while Nessa is a former nurse who was the most gentle and motherly of the trio. All three of these women highlight contrasting parts of womanhood. They demonstrate that women can be both fiery and soft, and both career driven while also having a family. I love how together they show that we women don’t have to be pigeonholed. They are examples of how capable women are and at the same time balance each other out.
I love the feminist themes and how this book is about women supporting women. The characters in this book made me feel empowered in my womanhood.

This novel is told from the third person perspective of multiple characters (primarily the main trio but also other side and minor characters). It primarily takes place in the present day but there are a number of flashback chapters to give backstory on the characters.
While this novel is mostly a thriller it also has elements of magical realism. All three of the main trio have magical powers – Harriet has power over plants, Nessa can see the spirits of the dead, and Jo has heat powers.
I love books that cross genres, and thrillers and magical realism are two genres I tend to like/be drawn to. However, they’re not typically genres I associate with one another. Yet they’re combined here brilliantly. The novel deals heavily with young women’s bodies being abused. Magical realism is utilized here as a method to demonstrate women reclaiming control of their bodies and said bodies being seen as powerful. It’s evocative symbolism. This is made even more significant by the fact that this book is geared towards middle aged women who have gone through menopause – as society tends to see women’s value decreasing as they age (which is offensive and wrong). However, as someone in her early thirties I still took a lot from this book.
I’ve read two other thriller novels before this one that felt like they were trying to convey the same or a similar feminist message. They were They Never Learn by Layne Fargo and The Last Housewife by Ashley Winstead. I had the same issue with both of those novels and that was the way they villainize ALL men. Every single male character in those novels is evil and that’s such a toxic portrayal. There are bad men out there, but there are also good men who are feminists themselves. This novel did what I wanted those other two to do and that is portray things as gray rather than black and white. There are a couple of good male characters as well as some morally grey female ones. Other authors could take notes from this.

This is the type of novel I’ve been waiting for. As I mentioned in the previous section, it’s what I wanted other feminist books to be. Of course, men can read this novel (and maybe should), but I do think this is a novel every woman (regardless of age) should read. That being said, if you are triggered by sexual abuse then please be warned this book could be highly triggering for you - precede with caution.

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