The women and girls found within the stories of Rachel Sherman’s short story collection, The First Hurt are flawed–internally, externally–fucked up, marked, imperfect. And that is what makes them so appealing. Within these pages, they show us their dark hearts, their secret bumps, the skin that they pick at. They show us what makes them tick, which is–as the narrator explains in the title story–the first hurt:
My grandmother has only seen me from my neck up. She has never even caught a peek of my terrain of secret skin. On my chest, my back, my arms, I have things growing at the base of me that only I can feel the first hurt of.
And to touch herself in these places, to pick at herself and bring on the hurt is to show herself love. She says:
It’s like magic: you touch your skin with the things you were given–hands and oil and pores. All you are doing is wiping yourself with love.
Shame and pain are equal to love–this is terrain I am quite familiar with, as, I would guess, are many of us.
All in all, it’s a great collection and I recommend it wholeheartedly.