Walking With Elephants [Book review]

Posted: July 17, 2014

Walking With Elephants by Karen Bell is not a new release, but this reviewer found it the genuine story of every working mother. 

Initially, Walking With Elephants seemed a women-centric book to me, but as my journey progressed deeper into protagonist Suez Hall’s chaotic life, I was compelled to change my mind. This is an exceptionally good read for men and women equally – it helps us to truly understand the life of a modern woman juggling personal aspirations and professional life, the responsibilities of being a mother to kids, a wife and still smiling.

There is more to a women’s life then what is evident on the surface – the deeper self-searching side which usually is ignored or not explored. Karen Bell has beautifully explored these aspects of a woman’s personality, subtly, between the daily-life panorama of Suez Hall’s life.

I  related completely with these lines from the book:

What if along with this visibility, the role of mother was considered just as vital; just as important? What if motherhood was a valid experience to put on a resume? What if telecommuting made it possible to stay at home and be an executive? What if women could put their children in schools near their work? Nursed them in their offices? What if women were given a paid maternity leave of two-years so they cold imprint their moral character on their children and still keep their jobs? . . . . And countless other innovations that would be created from women’s needs and wants?”

The author adroitly asks some very deep questions. These are today’s global issues related to gender inequality. The issues of child care, cooking etc. are still considered to be a woman’s domain; what has changed is that now she is also equally responsible for providing financial support. Walking With Elephants (the name completely relates with the story and this you will realize after reading it!) revolves around these issues.

Suez Hall is a woman struggling to balance all aspects of her life. Elliott is the dependable male, gay coworker who has successfully reached the status of being a friend in Suez’s life. Marcia is her unmarried best friend – a soothing balm midst the disarray of her busy life.

The story has quite a few side characters too. Harry Binder is Suez’s boss, and a moderate villain like all regular, real-life bosses! The author’s description of this character makes him a cruel yet interesting character, although there was a point when I secretly felt sorry for him.

I was greatly amused by the author’s sense of humour and there were multiple occasions while reading this book where I was more than smiling. The discreetly woven philosophy is another aspect of this book that I truly liked. Walking With Elephants seemed like it was my story, written with deep insights similar to what I found inside myself.

I was not surprised that it was a top 5 finalist in the Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Books of 2012 and was awarded the AIA Seal of Excellence in independent fiction by Awesome Indies. I would however advocate for a more mature writing style! The casual writing style, I think, an imprint from the author’s earlier professional roles, (she was previously writing light conversational pieces as a celebrity interviewer) makes the subject of the book sound less serious.

But for this drawback, Walking With Elephants is a great read with potential to become one of the best books on women’s lives.

A version of this review was published at the author’s blog.

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I am a poet, writer, book reviewer, book cover designer, active blogger addicted to writing-

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