Home Latest Should You Add “Gender Theory” By Madeline Docherty To Your Reading List?

Should You Add “Gender Theory” By Madeline Docherty To Your Reading List?

*Please check content warnings before reading Gender Theory,” as this title contains sensitive subjects, including sex, recreational drugs, alcohol, biphobia, and abortion.*

You lose your virginity to a boy from your gender theory seminar, and the first person you tell is Ella. Ella’s with you at the party when you first kiss a girl. And Ella takes you to the hospital the first time you’re diagnosed.

Over the next few years, you have a string of relationships and jobs, but you can always count on Ella to be there for you — until the drinking, the parties, the hospital visits, and the late-night calls blur the lines of your friendship, turning it into something unbalanced and fragile and at risk of breaking altogether.

The worst part is that you can see it coming and don’t know how to stop it.

This is an affecting and delicate story with a hard-hitting concept and beautiful storytelling. 

From the first few lines, it reads like poetry — soft, descriptive, rich, and lyrical but absolutely enchanting in its style and the imagery it invokes. While these conceptual writing styles can sometimes be challenging to digest, especially with a lack of speech marks and run-on, rambling sentences almost always starting with the same word, I still found the book stunning.

The narration refers to our main character as ‘you,’ which initially threw me off but gradually became easier to understand. 

Scenes shifted fluidly from one to another. The structured narrative, with short chapters melting into each other in an almost dreamlike state piecing together moments of life, perfectly describes youth and that in-between state of growing up and growing old. Our nameless character, us, navigates love, sexuality, friendships, health, and identity and grows up in front of our eyes in the messy, egotistic, mistake-riddled, and confused truth that is youth. It thoughtfully dissects the many ways we love, the quiet and the loud, the toxic and the healing.

Additionally, it felt extra personal for me as someone dealing with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) to see similar struggles reflected on the pages — a struggle women face every day but are continually gaslit into ignoring despite it affecting every part of their lives. It captures how chronic illnesses and health problems can take over and how they affect your relationships with others and yourself.

This is a powerhouse story with an important message. Make sure to add it to your bookshelves!

“Gender Theory” is available with John Murray Press from June 6th. This review was based on a gifted version of the UK release.

Featured image via Monstera Production on Pexels

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