Flashback Friday: Braided Lives by Marge Piercy

It’s time, once again, for Flashback Friday…

Flashback Friday is a chance to dig deep in the darkest nooks of our bookshelves and pull out the good stuff from way back. As a reader, a blogger, and a consumer, I tend to focus on new, new, new… but what about the old favorites, the hidden gems? On Flashback Fridays, I want to hit the pause button for a moment and concentrate on older books that are deserving of attention.

My rules — since I’m making this up:

  1. Has to be something I’ve (you’ve) read myself (yourself) — oh, you know what I mean!
  2. Has to still be available, preferably still in print
  3. Must have been originally published 5 or more years ago

Other than that, the sky’s the limit! Join me, please, and let us all know: what are the books you’ve read that you always rave about? What books from your past do you wish EVERYONE would read? Pick something from five years ago, or go all the way back to the Canterbury Tales if you want. It’s Flashback Friday time!

My pick for this week’s Flashback Friday:

Braided Lives by Marge Piercy

(published 1982)

From Amazon:

Growing up in Detroit in the 1950s, and going to college when the first seeds of sexual freedom are being sown, Jill and Donna are coming of age in an exciting, turbulent time. Wry, independent Jill thrives in the new free-spirited world, while her beautiful cousin Donna desperately searches for a man to make her life whole. As each cousin is driven by different demons and desires, they eventually realize that they cannot overcome fundamental differences in each others’ lives. Still, as their futures assume contrary paths, Jill and Donna realize that they may be separated, but they’ll never be truly divided from one another.

It’s not too much of an exaggeration to call Braided Lives a life-changing book. I read it, way back when, when I was still a college student. (Yes, that’s a picture of my very own copy, which definitely looks its age.) I happened upon this book in a used-book store, at a time when I was first exploring issues around empowerment and feminism. Marge Piercy’s books were eye-opening, teaching me so much about female friendship, societal pressure in regard to gender roles, and the ongoing struggle for independence and equality. Braided Lives is a book with a message, but at the same time, it is a lovely, moving, at times heart-breaking portrait of love and friendship, and is a powerfully written piece of fiction.

I’d always wondered whether this book would hold up and still be relevant so many years later. My daughter, a recent college graduate, just read Braided Lives this past year, and was blown away by this tale of two young women’s friendship, the hard choices they have to make, and the different paths ahead of them. So that would be a resounding YES — Braided Lives is a book that still has a message for young women today, as well as anyone else who enjoys a good, sensitive, and touching story.

So, what’s your favorite blast from the past? Leave a tip for your fellow booklovers, and share the wealth. It’s time to dust off our old favorites and get them back into circulation! 

Note from your friendly Bookshelf Fantasies host: This is my baby-steps attempt at a blog hop! Join in, post a Friday Flashback on your blog, and share your link below. Don’t have a blog post to share? Then share your favorite oldie-but-goodie in the comments section. Let’s get this party started!