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Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina – Book Review 

I picked up Riot Days as a memoir by one of the Pussy Riot group who were imprisoned in Russia for protesting. I had hoped to better understand their experience but unfortunately the structure of the book didn’t work for me. 

Initially I was trying to read the Advanced copy via my kindle app and I wondered if the formatting was making it difficult to read so I switched to a PDF version which was easier but still strange. 

Each chapter was split into short sections with bold headings but I couldn’t work out the placement of these because sometimes they seemed to relate to what had been written before and sometimes to what came next. 

The text itself was almost like a cross between poetry and prose with short paragraphs and a disjointed style, more like a stream of consciousness. It left me very confused about what was happening as timelines crossed.  

There were a few illustrations used, and I’m not sure if these were drawn by Maria but they were very childish and I don’t think they added anything to the narrative. 

The final two chapters were the most informative and seemed to be more linearly structured. In these Maria shares with us how she challenged the injustices in the prison she was in through her legal representation and made life better for the inmates.

The start didn’t really help me understand exactly what the initial protest was for and so I experienced a disconnect with her plight , which was undoubtedly traumatic. To be honest it left me wanting to go back and read news items about it instead. I wonder if this is a case of lost in translation. 

I did like this quote though 

“There is no certainty or predictability. There is no fate. There is a choice. My choice and yours, in each moment that demands it.”

I received an e-copy from the publisher via Netgalley. Opinions are my own. 

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