Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Review: Commune of Women

Commune of Women by Suzan Still

On an ordinary Los Angeles morning, the lives of seven women are about to become inextricably entangled, as they converge upon LA International Airport for various purposes. Suddenly, the morning erupts into chaos, as black-clad terrorists charge into the terminal, guns blazing. As the concourse becomes a killing field, six of the women dodge a hail of bullets to find refuge in a tiny staff room.

At the same time, in a similar small room close by, the sole female terrorist, dubbed simply X by her so-called Brothers, has the task of watching a bank of surveillance monitors. Apparently forgotten by her co-conspirators, she nevertheless is the best informed of the happenings in the outside world--happenings that are not easily understood.

Why are the police and FBI so slow to respond? What has motivated this attack? Who are these terrorists and what do they want? And will the women survive to tell their tale? Answers to these questions slowly reveal the terrible web of conspiracy and deceit into which they all have fallen. But the most profound revelation of all is how each has betrayed herself. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

This was a tough book to read at times, as I found myself wondering how I would react in a similar situation. Different women, from different walks of life, find themselves trapped in a small break room after a terrorist attack at the Los Angeles International Airport. We meet them as they arrive at the airport and watch as they find sanctuary in the break room, then try to survive.

There is Sophia, a strong "mountain woman" who takes charge and whose medical training comes in handy. Pearl, an old homeless woman who was napping in the room when the attack occurred. Heddi, a therapist who comes up with the idea of sharing stories to help pass the time. Betty, one of Heddi's patients who drove her to the airport to pick up Ondine, another of Heddi's patients. And Erika, a business woman shot in the shoulder, who Sophia tends to during their ordeal.

In a separate room is X, the only female terrorist, who is holed up in a control room where she can monitor both the airport and the local news. We learn her story as well, and watch as she tries to make sense out of how she got there and wonders what might happen next.

This is a powerful story, as the women share very personal stories. Not knowing if they will survive or not, the stories become more intimate and soul searching as the days pass. I found myself caring about these women, and marveling at their strength and perseverance. I was especially impressed with Sophia and Pearl, who had very different histories, but were both incredibly strong women.

Gave this one a 4/5 as I really enjoyed getting to know these characters, was immediately pulled into the plot, and found myself really caring about what would happen to the women. Still is a very gifted writer, and I look forward to reading more of her books in the future!

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


  1. Wow. When I read the summary of this book I didn't really think it was for me. I'm not big on reading books about terrorism. It always leaves me with a creepy feeling. But your review made this book so much more and now I'm kinda interested!

  2. I haven't read any book like this one. But your take on it is interesting. will consider reading it if I find a copy. :-)

  3. Ooh I like the sound of this as it sounds just that little bit different. Like yourself I think I'd also find myself constantly wondering just how I'd react.

  4. I like that the book seems to zero in on the intimate sharing that occurs, rather than on the terrorism act itself.

    Getting to "know" one of the terrorists, especially a woman terrorist, also sounds like a plus.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. Wonderful review. I don't know if I can read this one though. I have a hard time with books so close to reality. But sounds wonderfully well writen. THank you!

  6. I'm not sure this is something I would have normally picked up, but your review has my interest up. thanks for the review.