Everything is Not Enough

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Pub Date 26 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 31 Oct 2023

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In Everything is Not Enough, we return to the vivid and compelling world of three women who, desperate for their lives to change, have been drawn to the same place: Sweden. But life continues to throw challenges their way – challenges that threaten to tear them down once and for all...

Kemi Adeyemi has finally found the man she needs, but Tobias thinks she's the most selfish woman he has ever met for asking him to move to the US. Will Kemi be forced to stay if she wants to keep him? As things begin to sour, Kemi seeks comfort elsewhere...

Desperately seeking divorce in Sweden, Brittany-Rae von Lundin is not living the life she once dreamed of. Brittany gave up her career and came with nothing into Jonny's kingdom. Now they have a child together and Brittany's greatest fear is having to give her baby up. With a man obsessed with a ghost, trying to get away isn't going to be easy. And the deeper she digs into his past, the darker the secrets she unravels.

Muna Saheed lies in a coma after an attempt on her own life, but she leaves a box of secrets behind in Gunhild's apartment. Yasmiin Çelik, her unsuspecting next of kin, is contacted by the police. The more Yasmiin learns about Muna, the closer she feels to the troubled young woman. And Yasmiin is struggling with her own haunting history...

With all women struggling with the ghosts of their past and the problems of their present, will they be able to build a happy future in Sweden?

In Everything is Not Enough, we return to the vivid and compelling world of three women who, desperate for their lives to change, have been drawn to the same place: Sweden. But life continues to...

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Featured Reviews

Having not yet read Lola Akinmade Akerstrom's hugely successful novel, In Every Mirror She Is Black, I was a little apprehensive about starting the sequel, Everything Is Not Enough. But it proved surprisingly easy to slip into the lives of Yasmiin, Kemi and Brittany-Rae, three very different women struggling to find their place (and space) as Black women in mainstream Swedish society.

While Scandinavia is notoriously liberal, those familiar with Nordic societies generally say that fitting in is something that is asked of nearly every immigrant. No matter what your skills and credentials in your country of origin, you are invariably expected to prove yourself once again within this new milieu.

For Yasmiin, who has escaped from Somalia at considerable personal cost (in terms of what she had to do in order to survive prior to her marriage to her Turkish husband in Sweden), distancing herself from her past is part of her survival strategy as well as her plan for happiness in this new life with her husband and baby.

Now, that strategy is being jeopardized by the apparent attempted suicide of her friend, Muna, a fellow refugee, whom Yasmiin has distanced herself from, despite the two of them once having been extremely close. Of course, that might partly be explained by the fact that Muna knows things about her that Yasmiin would definitely prefer not to share with her husband.

For African-American Kemi, who left behind a successful professional track record in the US to take up a career opportunity in Sweden, life with both her Swedish boyfriend Tobias and her new job is proving to be less satisfying than she expected. To make matters worse, this is driving her to reckless and potentially self-destructive behaviour that is unlikely to end well for anyone involved in the situation.

Meanwhile beautiful ex-flight attendant Brittany-Rae discovers that her marriage to a powerful, white Swedish tycoon is based on his yearning for a lost love whom she closely resembles. And whom, Brittany-Rae realises, he has named their daughter Maya after!

Each of the three women is facing a major personal crisis, albeit ones that are quite different in nature. How they will be able to address their problems - and whether they can do so without significant collateral damage - remains to be seen...

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Thank you so much to Head of Zeus, Lola Akinmade Akerstrom and Net Galley for the advanced copy of this fantastic book, which publishes on 23rd October 2023.

Please be aware of the trigger warnings that are shared at the beginning of this book, some of which are alluded to in this review:
Infidelity, sexual assault, infant loss and suicide.

The dedication of this book, “For the strong, looking for safe spaces to be weak”, sums this book up in one beautiful, succinct sentence.

Everything is Not Enough is a sequel to the hugely popular In Every Mirror She’s Black and I would highly recommend reading this first, as it lays the foundations perfectly for the sequel.

We return to the lives of Yasmiin, Kemi and Brittany who all live in Sweden and are each facing their own personal challenges.

Yasmiin, who fled Somalia now lives a seemingly happy life with her Turkish husband and child, but the secrets she keeps about her past threaten to disrupt everything, as her previously close friend and fellow refugee Muna makes an attempt on her life.

Kemi, who moved to Sweden from the USA to pursue a promising career opportunity, is regretting her decision to give up her successful position for one that is not as fulfilling as she had hoped. Coupled with her less than perfect relationship with Swedish boyfriend Tobias, Kemi is drawn into some rather self destructive behaviours, with the consequences that come with them.

Brittany meanwhile learns early on that her seemingly perfect marriage is based on secrets and past ghosts and she is left having to decide how she moves forward with this new information.

I really enjoyed this beautiful book, flying through it in a weekend. Lola so wonderfully writes human, raw emotions in a relatable and compassionate way. These women are each facing their own personal battles and making mistakes, life choices and experiences we can all relate to on some level or another. I loved the way Lola made these women empowered, despite the hurdles they had to navigate and never made them seem a victim, but a survivor.
This is an honest, thought provoking exploration of three women’s stories and I’m grateful I was able to walk alongside them for this brief time.

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This is the second instalment of this ‘story’ and it built on the last one and so much more. Lola Akinmade Akerstrom is an amazingly brilliant author. I love the intertwined lives of these strong black women in a country designed to see them fail. Fantastic

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4.5 stars rounded up

I don't think I was quite ready for the wealth of feeling this book evoked in me. It took me a little while to get into this, mainly to get acquainted with our three heroines, but once I did, I could hardly put this down. There are so many layers to Everything is Not Enough, so many different issues that are being discussed, and yet none of it felt forced or exaggerated. Beautifully written, heart-wrenching story - I highly recommend.

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This is a sequel to ‘In Every Mirror She’s Black’ which I’d highly recommend reading before continuing to this book. I loved the first book and when I finished it, I was left wanting to know more, about how each story would continue so was glad when I heard that this book was in the works and it did not disappoint!

As with ‘In Every Mirror She’s Black’ I really enjoyed this book. I loved how we continued to hear the stories of three different women with distinctive voices who live completely different lives but share the struggles of navigating life, love, and prejudice in a country where they have moved to.

We primarily continue to hear the stories of Brittney, Kemi and Yasmiin (and Muna through Yasmiin’s perspective) and how they overlap. But we are also introduced to some other bold women such as the “tigris/tigress Amani and her sister Salima.

Brittney continues to struggle to find her place in Sweden and tries to come to terms with revelations regarding her husband Johnny and their relationship. Kemi questions where her future lies and whom it lies with. Yasmiin gains some independence but struggles with coming to terms with her past. Each of them faces a huge personal crisis and we follow how they attempt to overcome this.

I enjoyed how this book ended. Whilst I wouldn’t call it predictable, I was satisfied with how this book ended and where the story of each of the main character concludes. However I would be interested to hear the stories from the perspective of the men; Johnny (to hear his feelings on his family, how the relationship with Maya unfolded and his relationship with Brittney), Yagiz (to hear his arrival to Sweden and how he became a “boss”) and Tobbe (his family, growing up in Sweden and his feelings on the career differences between him and Kemi).

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading other books by Lola.

Thank you to Lola Akinmade Åkerström, Head of Zeus and NetGalley for the advance free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Lola Akinmade Åkerström's "Everything is Not Enough" takes readers on a captivating journey through the lives of three remarkable women in Stockholm. This second novel from the acclaimed author of "In Every Mirror She's Black" is a thought-provoking exploration of life, love, prejudice, and the unexpected connections that bind us.

Yasmiin finds herself in disbelief when she learns that her friend is in a coma following an attempted suicide. As Yasmiin delves into her friend's past, she uncovers mysteries that lead her to question her own life's trajectory. Akinmade Åkerström skillfully builds suspense and keeps readers engaged as Yasmiin's search for answers takes unexpected twists and turns.

Kemi appears to have it all—a successful career, a beautiful home, and a loving boyfriend. Yet, she struggles with an underlying restlessness that pushes her toward destructive choices in search of change. Akinmade Åkerström delves into Kemi's internal battles, offering a poignant portrayal of the complexity of human emotions and the quest for fulfilment.

Brittany-Rae, a woman overshadowed by her domineering husband Jonny, embarks on a journey to reclaim her identity. Uncovering disturbing secrets about Jonny, her focus shifts to protecting her daughter and creating a life far away from his influence. Brittany-Rae's story is one of strength and empowerment, reminding us of the resilience found within ourselves when faced with adversity.

In "Everything is Not Enough," the lives of these three women unexpectedly intersect, revealing the power of connection and the potential for healing through shared experiences. Akinmade Åkerström explores themes of prejudice, privilege, and personal freedom, weaving them seamlessly into the narrative.

The author's writing style is engaging and evocative, painting vivid pictures with her words and eliciting a range of emotions. The story flows smoothly, keeping readers enthralled and eager to uncover the resolutions to the characters' dilemmas.

"Everything is Not Enough" serves as a poignant reminder that our paths can cross in surprising ways and that sometimes, the answers we seek can be found in the most unlikely of places.

With relatable characters, an intricate plot, and powerful themes, this book is a must-read for those seeking an engaging and thought-provoking narrative.

Thanks to NetGalley, Head of Zeus, and the author for sending me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Ákínmádé Åkerström returns to tackle racism in Sweden in her sequel novel, Everything is Not Enough.

The development of characterisation that we see throughout the novel, was paced really well and I really enjoyed the changing of perspectives between the lead characters and how they touched each others lived in various ways and manners.

The best thing about this novel is that no one is perfect and everyone is flawed. The author hadn't sought to make life appear like a fairytale for these women but even in the harsh moments, the novel is grounded in a stark and real reality faced by many people living in western, white majority cities/countries.

I love grey characters and Ákínmádé Åkerström tackles this really well, take for example the husband of one of the women, he loves his wife greatly, but we are continually asked the question does his love trump his no desirable traits?

We are invited into a world where women have to fight for their autonomy in the workplace, their homes and the wider culture sphere of Sweden, and they take on the mantle successfully. They aren't perfect, but who is and although some of the characters I wanted to shake, Ákínmádé Åkerström does so well to feed into the lives of these characters and the struggles to find their place in Sweden and bring a level of understanding to their actions.

This book contains heavy, real topics such as infant death, infidelity and sexual assault so please check in with yourself before starting to read.

Thank you to Head of Zeus, Lola Ákínmádé Åkerström and Net Galley for this advanced copy. I'll be releasing a more in-depth review closer to publication.

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Firstly thank you to net galley for a free copy in return for my honest review.

A fantastic read with some strong female characters battling against the odds to build a life for themselves and their families. The Western world sells itself on equal opportunities for all, but this book explores how people fall through cracks or show the image people want to see. This is about building and maintaining female friendships and supporting each other.

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This book was incredibly. The author seamlessly slipped us into the lives of the characters and I felt such a multitude of emotions.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an advanced copy of his book in exchange for a review.

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This is the second book I have read by Lola and really enjoyed the last. We are back in Stockholm, Sweden to catch up with Kemi and Brittany . We also meet Yasmin and her husband alongside Muna who is in hospital following a horrific incident.

I liked that all 3 leading characters were strong, black women. I loved how down they felt and what they were each going through, their own personal battles - they still find it within them to have a voice and do what they feel is right. Racism is discussed through out the book from different points of views and on different levels, from the micro racism encountered and every day comments, to the bold in your face discrimination. I think the author did this extremely well.

The other topics discussed in this book include infidelity, child loss, sexual assault, and suicide. The general theme through the book is I found was feeling misplaced and never really fitting in.

Muna and Ahmed's story particularly I found to be extremely sad and harrowing in parts to read. I liked how Lola manage to weave the story to interlink each character.

Throughout it all though and down to the author and characters she built - these incredible women there is still love and hope to hold on to.

I will be recommending this book to others and looking out for more from this author.

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Everything Is Not Enough is a follow-up to brilliant In Every Mirror She's Black. Lola Akinmade Åkerström has a way with words; she pulls the reader straight into the book.

I'm so glad that this book made up for what irked me in the previous installment - camaraderie amongst the three main characters; Kemi, Britanny and Yasmine; Yasmine being Muna's friend. Each chapter alternates between the three.

I much preferred Britanny in this book to how she was in the previous one. However, I found Kemi's actions to be quite frustrating, considering how empowered she once was. Yasmine's story was interesting to read.

These women still face challenges in their relationships and careers in Sweden. They still face discrimination with regard to their skin colour - yet, they still stand tall.

Everything Is Not Enough is a compelling read and will not disappoint.

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I haven't read the novel to which this is a sequel and I certainly will now as I love the main characters, Brittany Rae, Kemi and Yasmin. The book is cleverly structured so that there is no need to have read the first book about Brittany and Kemi. I loved the setting in Sweden and the insights into the immigrant life and the exploration of the various ways in which racism manifests itself in various strata of society from those on the lowest rung to those in the incredibly wealthy bracket.. I found the thriller/murder sub plot involving Brittany Rae's in laws and her husband a little far fetched when his abusive behaviour was enough to take on board. However, this was a minor niggle in a good and thought provoking read.

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This was a hard read. It was beautiful and colourful but also very deep and disturbing. The mirror was held up to racism in all its ugliness and the impact it has. The protection the colour of skin gives someone, the pain and the glory that the characters went through was everywhere.
The promise of the first book is followed through in Everything is not Enough. My stomach clenched for the women fighting against all the odds to be heard and seen. There is more hope in this book, although it takes its time to bloom and once more children start to fill the holes left by loss and abuse and cruelty.
Not a relaxing read, but pretty much an essential one.

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I loved this sequel. Like the first book, I immediately felt closely involved in the lives of Kemi, Brittany and Muna. I highly recommend reading the first book before starting this one, as everything becomes clearer. I found Yasmiin's story the most interesting, I loved getting to know her. We got to see a new side of Brittany-Rae, which was also great. And as much as Kemi frustrated me, I also rooted for her.

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Lola Akinmade Åkerström returns to the literary scene with "Everything is Not Enough." Fearlessly addressing themes of personal struggle, cultural displacement, and the immigrant experience, the narrative weaves a captivating, compelling tale - regardless of whether we are familiar with the first novel, "In Every Mirror She’s Black”, I wasn’t.

"Everything is Not Enough" portrays the complex lives of Yasmiin, Kemi, and Brittany, three women set against the backdrop of liberal yet quietly demanding Scandinavian society (this is a side of Sweden that I wasn’t aware of). Each character faces diverse, deeply personal challenges, forming the navigation of their unavoidable, often harsh realities.

Yasmiin, a Somalian refugee, grapples with the weight of her hidden past, which threatens her peaceful existence. Kemi, living in the shadow of a thriving career left behind in the US, wrestles with regret and self-destructive tendencies. In contrast, Brittany unravels secrets within her seemingly perfect marriage, prompting her to question her future.

Åkerström's writing style exudes fluidity and precision, delicately illustrating the struggles immigrants encounter while endeavouring to align themselves with their new circumstances. While it had the potential to morph into a taut thriller, Åkerström chooses a more gradual, character-driven narrative that underscores the stark, unyielding spectrum of human emotions. The narrative subtly echoes a contemporary Charlotte Bronte, as each character's trajectory, though peppered with trials, errors, and poor decisions, beautifully epitomises their resilience.

"Everything is Not Enough" is a thought-provoking introspection into the hallmark experiences shared by these three resilient women. Åkerström's storytelling allowed me to walk beside them. Her heartfelt narrative offers a mindful observation of not just surviving, but thriving amidst life's turbulent seas.

A heartfelt thank you to Netgalley, Head of Zeus, and Lola Akinmade Åkerström for the advance readers copy. "Everything is Not Enough" gets published 23 October, and #pudseyrecommends

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Everything is Not Enough takes up shortly after the events of Lọlá Ákínmádé Åkerström’s first novel, In Every Mirror She’s Black. We rejoin American expats Kemi and Brittany-Rae in Stockholm and this time get to know Yasmiin, the former housemate of Muna from the first book. This one continues their stories but I think with a deeper psychological examination. There’s one particular scene that had me wincing at the car crash of a situation. We all make mistakes but fortunately we don’t all end up in such an excruciating position as Kemi does here. And the description of her seeing someone’s face or hearing his face wherever she goes is all too real.
I like the way the three main characters’ lives touch each other just enough, rather than there being contrived situations. I also think the secondary characters are really well drawn, particularly Kemi’s friend Malcolm and Yasmiin’s client Amani. I recommend you read this if you want a(nother) look at what it’s like to be a woman of colour in Sweden, or if you just fancy a proper page-turner. Either way, it’s really enjoyable.

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The follow-up to In Every Mirror She’s Black is here and it is everything. A powerhouse novel about feminine rage and fury full of personality and charm.

Lola continues to masterfully capture the treatment women, especially women of colour, still face for simply existing or dreaming of something different than society’s role for them and the anger directed to them for daring to want something more, to try and have everything. She dissects modern issues with care and grace; and offers a nuanced, thoughtful way that holds a lens to them for all to see.

Our author seamlessly moves from multiple perspectives that are all unique and have clear voices, weaving them together effortlessly while still allowing each character the space to tell their story. Kemi, Brittany and Yasmiin are our main narrators, but we get to hear from a range of characters and perspectives without it feeling confusing, each voice bringing something different and clearly distinct. It moves steadily, giving us time with each woman with quick but hard hitting chapters and it flows in an easily readable way despite the heavy and at times dark content. There is a lot of rage and despair here, but also a kind of release and catharsis that can be found too.

If you haven't read the first story yet, you can definitely jump right in here as it has the storytelling finesse to stand alone - but you are going to want to read it because once you meet our characters, you'll just want to know more about them.

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An absolutely beautifully written book that is even better than the first one. Lola's writing is constantly discriptive and she takes you on a formidable emotional journey that makes you become empathetic to all three of the main characters. A masterful story-teller, whose next book I already can't wait to read

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Thank you to Netgalley and Head of Zeus for the advanced e-copy!!!


A very interesting read from three different perspectives of black women in Sweden, ranging from working class to middle class and to high class. This book explores how racism is tackled in a European country, specifically in Sweden, and provides a new perspective to the discussion of race, especially since racism in Europe is not portrayed in the mainstream, this book provides a nuanced take on racism in general. I enjoyed the discussion that the author begins, especially since racism in Scandinavian countries is extreme but more subtle and systematic, and having two of the main characters be American also juxtaposes their experience as black women.

The three point of views converge, because it’s kind of true that in European countries that people of colour from different walks of life and different classes will always come together and they will eventually know of each other or conveniently be within each other’s circles, so that take was very relatable and true. But the way that the plot moves is painstakingly slow, whilst I know this is more a character study, a literary fiction type of novel and I shouldn’t complain, I can’t help but feel like this book was unfinished. This may be a trademark of the publisher, but I was really left with wanting more.

Towards the middle of the book, I could have sworn it was the same chapters over and over again. It was the same struggle for 200 pages, just with different words, and sometimes it didn’t even provide anything new to the story, it felt like filler chapters. I found myself not really rooting for any of the characters, nor immersing myself in their stories because I felt like they relived the same day over and over again, and it wasn’t until the third act of the book where my interest started being piqued. I love literary fiction, but the characters cannot go through the same struggle every chapter, it was boring and just felt repetitive.

That being said, I did enjoy the takes the characters had on their own struggle from trying to divorce a wealthy husband, being a homewrecker, and being the wife of a mafia king who also has a suicidal ‘sister’, I really enjoyed their perspectives mostly because they were so different from my own reality. Like I could never be any of those wonderful, strong women but I loved being able to peek into their minds and how their conscience worked, it was just fascinating to see a completely different reality to mine, and it intrigued me.

I enjoyed it, I will try to read the first one as well.

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Who loved, like me, “In Every Mirror She’s Black” by Nigerian author Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström, can joy for this stunning sequel. Even though I preferred the first one, I can tell that “Everything is not enough” is amazing. The same linear (but more polished) writing style, the same perfect characterisation and the same fluid, fluent structure. I’ve loved how each situation has been resolved, the protagonists’ growth and the development of the plots. Sometimes, Kemi and Brittany frustrated me, but I still wanted to hug her both: it’s no easy navigate in a country such Sweden as a Black woman. Muna is my favourite character and I’m happy she’s still here, and I adored Yasmiin as a new protagonist. As an Italian woman, I can confirm that, unfortunately, many female refugees and migrants end up in the web of prostitution or as victims of mafia, especially to the one of Rome (there’s a reportage in The Guardian about this).
Moreover, the author has been able to condense and to express a vastità of topics linked to racism and sexism, although connected to each other, with intelligence, without edulcorating them, with honesty and transparency, with no filters and never balking, showing the truth and the reality of Sweden and Northern Europe, considered as the most open-minded and inclusive (but they are not, I can confirm this as a Mediterranean European). The difference between the Northern and the Southern Europe is that the latter is noisier and more explicit than the former.
Even though I’ve already known the situation in Europe, the novel, like the first, made me reflect on racism in Europe, on how much is radical and subtle. It’s a pity the first book’s not available in the other European countries, it could be an awake for some. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to read this book and for author’s honesty.

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I loved this sequel to "In Every Mirror She's Black" and would highly recommend reading that first. While I wanted to root for each character, as they sought to shine to their fullest potential as Black women in a European country with a questionable relationship with racism, I found myself amazingly frustrated with each of them (except Muna - she couldn't help her situation...). I was glad to see the resolutions for each - none of them were predictable and still left plenty of room to speculate over what happens next.

Regardless, I'm looking forward to more of Akinmade Akerstrom's perspective on the lives of Black women in Sweden!

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It's a well plotted story and there's a lot of food for thought. The story of the three women is full of grief, regrets, secrets but there's also the strength of the three main characters.
An interesting story, a different view of living in Sweden.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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I absolutely loved this book and it’s already in my top 5 of the year thus far. Everything is Not Enough follows Kemi, Brittany, and Yasmiin, three Black women living in Stockholm as they navigate prejudice, life, love and social class. All three narratives were equally engaging and interesting and I never felt like I wanted to see more of one story over the other. Akerstrom has produced a book that’s equal parts cutting, moving and funny at times.

I wasn’t aware that there was a first book which features 2 out of the 3 women - but this didn’t really impact my reading experience.

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It was great to read about the life's of the woman and the positive and negative experiences that lead them to where they are. Very relatable characters to me.

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