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The Independent Critic

 Book Review: Eve by Cat Bohannon 
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As an adult with significant disabilities, I can recall reaching this stage in my life when I became incredibly frustrated with what I perceived as the weaknesses and limitations of my physical being.

It seemed like everything was going wrong and deeply lamented the loss of feeling "normal."

After a while, I began a deep dive into various aspects of my disabilities. I learned about my body. I learned about spina bifida. I learned about hydrocephalus, amputation, and traumatic brain injury. I learned as much as I could about history and function and biology and the universality of my being.

Over time, I began to realize and accept that my body is pretty amazing.

I thought of this period of my life often while reading Cat Bohannon's remarkable "Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution," a deep dive into what the female body is, how it came to be, and how this evolution still shapes all our lives today.

Bohannon picks up where "Sapiens" left off, covering the past 200 million years to tell the story of what it really means to be a woman in a way that somehow, unfathomably, both incredibly entertaining and stunningly well researched with hundreds, and I mean hundreds, of cited sources along the way. "Eve" is both incredibly satisfying yet also leaves you craving more of Bohannon's curiosity, insight, knowledge, and wit.

"Eve" can be an overwhelming book. It's incredibly academic yet also remarkably accessible in language, style, and structure. Bohannon seemingly understands that to really get her points across she needs to find a way to immerse us in this information without leaving us gasping for our literary breaths. Mission accomplished.

I was in awe of both the intimacy and universality of "Eve" as Bohannon explores a variety of topics in exploring, essentially, what it means to biologically be a woman and that tells the story of womanhood throughout the centuries.

To call "Eve" some sort of feminist manifesto seems inadequate as it's really a manifesto for humanity that places, in ways never done before, women into the picture of medicine, neurobiology, paleoanthropology, and evolutionary biology.

Bohannon writes with candor the history of breasts and vaginas and womb and love and menopause and so much more. It's honestly deliriously awesome. It's informative yet it's far beyond informative because it builds a vision of womanhood that is truly awe-inspiring.

For far too long, the world has told the story of human history through the male body (though perhaps not the disabled male body). With "Eve," Bohannon passionately declares a corrective and beautifully brings to life the power and glory of the female body and how it truly has driven 200 million years of human evolution.

Bohannon's writing here is both profound in its knowledge and poetic in its narrative rhythms. I learned so much throughout "Eve," yet what is equally as profound is how much I actually enjoyed that learning from beginning to end. "Eve" is a revelatory vision of the history of womanhood that celebrates that history with a sense of joy and wonder.

It's not often that I reach the end of a 600-page book and think to myself "Give me more." But, oh yes, "Give me more!"

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic