Tender Mind
by Tiffany Rodriguez

"I felt so saddened by my love and sexual life. The fact that I was molested made me drive men away. I always wanted to get fat so that no man would like me for sex, and I didn’t even know that I was a virgin."

In this short novel, the focus is on a variety of social issues, including sexual harassment and abuse, prejudice and discrimination, mental illness, and cultural differences. Throughout all of Lucy’s problems, she attempts various schooling (noting that she has an IQ of 300) and has a variety of jobs, often getting fired because of being Filipino. Because she looks Caucasian, she initially doesn’t have work issues but believes it is the discrimination that causes job losses. She is in and out of psychiatric treatment centers and also sees a counselor and psychiatrist on an outpatient basis. Because she has schizophrenia, she takes strong psychoactive medications for her illness. Lucy believes her schizophrenia was caused by studying too much for school. She has difficult relationships with her mother and sister, which impact her life. Throughout the book, Lucy also goes into detail regarding sexual abuse and her sexual play with a few men.

The book reads more like a journal—albeit one written in first-person dialogue—rather than a typical story. Although some additional editing would improve the story’s effectiveness, the narrative does weave an interesting path through the traumas of Lucy’s life, her naiveté, and her attempts to cope with life. At times, it is painful to read due to her sexual victimization by various men, the details of her sex life, and her struggles with her family. The ending, although abrupt, also explains the goal of her life. The author’s novel succeeds in showing the character’s struggles with societal concerns and how one woman attempts to cope.

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