Biting the Stick is a story about personal conscience and and an internal struggle over the subject of female genital mutilation of little girls. The big question this book asks is what would you do, speak out or stay silent?
A young woman, Tania, working as a student support counselor stumbles upon a ritual genital cutting on her university campus. A little girl is pinned to a bed while her mother looks on as an older woman is cutting the girl’s genitals with a knife. No anesthetic, music playing to cover the sounds of her screams and more women with their children waiting their turn outside.
It seems incredulous to her that this activity should be taking place at all, never mind that it is happening in the UK, in a public facility.
So what happens next, does she speak out or stay silent? Susannah Carlton, the author of this book, has worked as a counselor and she knows that things are seldom as straight forward as they should be. She goes on to tell the story of Tania, her own personal circumstances, how she came to be where she was to witness the event and what happens after she has.
In typical Susannah style, she pulls no punches, she tells it how it is, the internal struggles with conscience, the politics that enter the arena, the secret agendas of people in authority and the possible justification of a procedure that, outside of the cultures that practice it, would be considered nothing less than barbaric.
So do the cultural differences between the modern western world and the people across Africa or the Middle East explain this practice, justify it even? Can there really be a justification to allow this practice to continue……at any level or for any reason?
Now published as a paperback on Createspace, this is a book that is a must read and it is Susannah’s second novel, so if you enjoy Biting the Stick you can go and get a copy of Lonely Mirrors to get even more of a flavour of Susannah’s writing skills.
Biting the Stick on Amazon
Biting the Stick on Createspace
A Goodreads Review
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Susannah Carltonhas written another cracking novel, once again on a very difficult subject. Female genital mutilation is very much in the news these days, so the timing is good.
Susannah has written this book from the perspective of a support worker and through her eyes demonstrates how hard it is to deal with problems of this nature. Deeply embedded in culture and involving close family and relatives, how can the authorities tackle the issues, never mind the individuals on the ground?
It displays human frailties and faults, how personal, political and selfishness can all play a part in the actions that are taken. Black & white, Susannah shows it is anything but that and leaves you asking the question – Speak out or Stay Silent?