In a great many ways, Commute by Erin Williams was one of the most uncomfortable books I have ever read. To some degree, this is warranted and necessary. At other points, it’s too much and not quite as insightful as I was hoping it would be. Very much so, Commute is about one woman’s experiences. And while it is very possible for many of us to relate to much of what is brought up throughout the course of this graphic novel, it’s also very clear that this is an incredibly personal story and it is not one that quite sends the message she is aiming for.
Ultimately, I think that the biggest piece of this book that left me feeling the most uncomfortable, and not in a way that sparks progress and important discussion which is something I could have respected, is how she almost consistently seems to point out her own form of self-blame. As Williams points out the problematic pieces of rape culture and the way society in so many ways hates and shames and devalues women, she manages somehow to do it as well. And for a book that is supposed to be calling out problematic aspects of our patriarchal society, it’s really damaging to have it also commit some of the same crimes it is trying to call out.
And overall it is true that much of William’s commentary is rather insightful, that it heads in the right direction and begins the conversation it should. But somehow she manages to discredit herself and that bothered me immensely while reading it. Though I can understand how she feels her alcoholism contributed to what she went through, to have it also serve as a way for her to blame herself for her situations left me exceedingly uncomfortable.
At the end of the day I’m left not sure how to feel about the book as a whole. I feel as though it’s more memoir and cathartic for the author than it is an important commentary on the problems of society. And I guess, in that sense, I was really looking for something much different.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.