“If I had been born a boy, I would have followed in my father’s footsteps and become a tradesman. Because I was a girl, he sold me instead.” –Taliasman
When my mother came of age, she had three options for a career: nurse, teacher, or secretary. She became a teacher and hated it. She told me, “If I’d been a boy, I could have become an accountant, engineer, or physicist. Because I was a girl, I didn’t have choices.”
A generation later, I grew up with my own version of “If I had been born a boy.” As the girl in the family, I was expected to perform household chores, cross my ankles while wearing skirts, baby-sit, and remain sweetly polite at all times. My mother, who had grown up feeling unwanted as a girl, unwittingly carried on the tradition of limiting her own girl-child. “Boys are so much easier, “ she told me when I failed to meet her standards. “He’s a boy,” she explained when I asked why my brother could lounge on the couch watching football while I washed dishes after holiday meals. “It’s different for boys,” she said when privileges and freedom did not cross gender lines.
I fumed. And when I wrote Taliasman, the fairy tale realm offered depths to portray Talia, a young woman ravaged by the society and family that should have nurtured her. Instead of prosaic dish-washing, the daughter of a poor construction worker receives her own messages about gender-based worth. For her, however, the struggle is literal. Sold for not being a boy and stripped of self-worth, she despairs of finding meaning in her life.
Enter Queen Vina, a heavenly ruler who descends to Earth after receiving a talisman from the mysterious storyteller, Nicodemus. She searches for months before finding Talia’s cottage. When she offers a sack full of gold, however, she wins Talia’s body but not her heart. Furious, miserable, and betrayed, Talia locks Vina into a stalemate night after night. Vina offers love, but Talia understands only scorn.
When human trafficking and gender crimes still threaten women and young girls, the story of Talia becomes all the more relevant to our lives today. When wearing a mini-skirt deems women culpable for “illegitimate” rape, we must teach our daughters to value themselves.
If Taliasman makes you cry, I am pleased you care for Vina and Talia. If Taliasman makes you reflect on your own life and embrace the wonderful goodness of being a woman, I have done my job. Thank you for allowing these two women into your life.
Taliasman Buy Links:
Taliasman Buy Links:
Anastasia Vitsky will give a wooden spoon to one random commenter on this post. If you live outside of the United States, she will offer a comparable gift certificate instead.