I don’t know when A Frozen Woman by Annie Ernaux came on my radar, but it has been lurking around my consciousness for a while. Now, thanks to my Women Write Their Lives class at NYU, I am reading it this week and I am so drawn in by its thoughtful honesty and clear expression.

The references to growing up unfazed by dust balls in her home, to a love of reading and to her burgeoning sexuality are wonderful, but I am just beginning to get into a section about attending Catholic school and it resonates so.

So relate to this feeling:

The pleasure of being thoroughly myself when I recite a poem, conjugate a verb, or solve a math problem without a single mistake.

And these messages:

Although they aren’t brutal about it, our teachers do their bit — under a sugarcoating of religion — to erode our will and self-confidence …

The body is a cesspool, intelligence a sin.

And a little girl’s refreshing thoughts through it all:

I want to travel, to eat papayas and rice with chopsticks and use what gifts I have to become a doctor or a teacher.