I love having exciting posts on my blog and this is certainly one of those! This week Jenny Downham, the author of Furious Thing, is celebrating the release of her book with a jam-packed blog tour. Today is my turn to host Jenny Downham on the blog to share a guest post. Today’s post is all about women’s anger in Furious Thing. Be sure to check out the other posts on this blog tour because they are all insightful and interesting!
Lexi’s angry. And it’s getting worse.
If only she could stop losing her temper and behave herself, her stepfather would accept her, her mom would love her like she used to, and her stepbrother would declare his crushing desire to spend the rest of his life with her. She wants these things so badly, she’s determined to swallow her anger and make her family proud. But pushing fury down doesn’t make it disappear. Instead, it simmers below the surface waiting to erupt . . . And there’ll be fireworks when it does.
Women’s Anger in Furious Thing
Furious Thing tackles a difficult subject – that of controlling and coercive behaviour – but one which, I think, is hugely important, especially in these times of fake news and half-truths and as the notion of masculinity is being re-assessed.
This form of abuse is also known as gaslighting. It evolves gradually and works by destroying the very foundation of the victim’s judgement.
It’s a hard area to police, or even put on paper, because it happens slowly, subtly and covers a range of possible behaviours. It’s also deeply personal because the perpetrator has intimate knowledge of the victim, so the patterns of abuse and control are specifically tailored.
Eventually, the victim starts to normalise it, starts to think if only they could satisfy the rules that have been put in place, everything would be okay and they’d be happy again. They’re so intertwined in the abuse that they start to believe that they’re the one that needs to change.
At the start of the novel, fifteen-year-old Lexi is angry and doesn’t know why. Her temper constantly gets her in to trouble and however hard she tries to rein it in, it just erupts again. This is because someone in her life is grinding down her judgement, confidence and strength. Yet she has no idea what’s happening to her and when she does begin to see it, she doesn’t have words to express it.
At one point in the book, Lexi normalises what’s happening to her. She accepts she has no power and no voice and she gives up. When I got to this point in the writing process, I could see no way out (I never plot). She’d been fighting back the whole time and now she’d gone to bed and pulled the duvet over her head. I wanted her to free herself and those she loves from a toxic situation and yet she’s fifteen. How was she supposed to do that? What it actually took was another character validating her. I think that’s what it takes in real life too – to be seen, to be heard, to be believed. Validation gave Lexi the strength to keep going.
There are lots of girls and women in the world with real and justifiable cause to be angry. If I had one wish for this book, it would be that some of them feel heard and are able to voice their experience and find validation. Anger can be an eloquent expression of passion and a transforming force.
A huge thank you to Jenny and the wonderful people at David Fickling Books for arranging this blog tour! Be sure to check out the other blogs and their posts through the week!