I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself | Critical Book Review

“I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself” by Marisa Crane delves into the intricacies of grief, shame, and parenthood within the confines of an oppressive surveillance state. In this exploration, the novel follows Kris, a newly widowed queer woman, navigating the challenges of raising her child amid the weight of grief and the draconian control of a fascist regime.

A Dystopian Reality:

The speculative narrative unveils a society where transgressions result in additional shadows, a visible mark leading to legalized second-class citizenship. The omnipresent surveillance by “the Department” creates a haunting atmosphere, resonating strongly with marginalized readers familiar with the trauma of constant scrutiny.

Intimate Storytelling:

The narrative unfolds in three parts, spanning nearly a decade and capturing Kris’s journey from receiving her child to navigating the complexities of her relationship with Beau. Crane artfully weaves together confessions from Kris to Beau, delivering a deeply personal account of existence, loss, and the challenges of marginalized parenting.

Social Commentary and Exploration:

The novel tackles a range of societal issues, from introducing kink in relationships to questioning the morality of abolishing prisons. It addresses emotional consequences tied to anonymous sperm donation, troubled kids within the school system, and broader themes such as love, loss, desire, bureaucracy, and queerness.

Marisa Crane’s Expertise:

Crane’s writing mirrors the intense experience of marginalized parenthood, vividly portraying the messiness, madness, and constant anxiety. The novel invites readers into Kris’s world with its heart wide open, creating a therapeutic atmosphere that resonates deeply with the human experience.

Poignant Reflections:

“I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself” captures the essence of oppression with a timeless depth. The book’s relevance is likely to persist, with its poignant quotes echoing through changing societal landscapes. Readers witness Kris’s struggles, from acknowledging her late wife to facing societal judgments about her uniquely shadowed child.

Emotional Impact:

Reading the novel feels like a carefully crafted therapy session, with Kris’s emotions laid bare. Crane’s prose, both astounding and breathtaking, invites readers to navigate the nuances of love, loss, desire, and the broader spectrum of the human condition.

Multifaceted Themes:

The book explores the delicate balance between vulnerability, shame, and the profound losses that reshape one’s worldview. It brings forth a poignant narrative of Kris building a support network amid grief, portraying the birth of a revolutionary spirit in her child.

Complex Topics:

While addressing potentially triggering topics, including depression, child services intervention, bullying, and suicidal ideation, the novel maintains a balance of humor and absurdity in Kris and her child’s resistance against the surveillance state.

Final Verdict:

“I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself” is a compelling read for fans of Black Mirror and Omniscient. It offers solace to those grappling with the loss of a spouse or the challenges of solitary parenting. Equal parts queer, devastating, and thought-provoking, this novel leaves an indelible mark, illuminating the healing power of community amid despair.

Publisher, Genre, Print Length, and ISBN:

PublisherGenrePrint LengthISBN
CatapultScience Fiction / LGBTQ+352 pages978-1646221295

“I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself” by Marisa Crane delves into the intricacies of grief, shame, and parenthood within the confines of an oppressive surveillance state. In this exploration, the novel follows Kris, a newly widowed queer woman, navigating the challenges of raising her child amid the weight of grief and the draconian control of…