We recently published Melissa Llanes Brownlee’s powerful “To Ever Love One Girl.”
Here, we ask her two questions about her story:
1) I love that this story feels so natural — dialect can be such a tricky thing to capture on the page, but the voice here is so real. Did you ever consider writing this piece in a more formal style?
That’s a tricky question. The format is embedded dialogue without the traditional quotation marks or even italics to separate it from the narrative. I chose this to lend a sense of urgency and immediacy to the story. I feel putting it into quotes or italics would have added additional distance to what is happening to the girls, women, daughters, nieces, and cousins. As for whether I would have written that dialogue in Standard American English, I never really considered it. Most of my work uses Hawaiian Pidgin Creole because I think it offers authenticity to the stories I set in that place and time. Also, it is basically the language I grew up with. I don’t think this story would be what it is without it.
2) The ending is so strong and so haunting. It breaks my heart! Do you think there is a chance that the narrator and her cousin and any of the girls have a chance to break out of this cycle, to cease submitting to these “little deaths”?
It breaks my heart too! It was difficult to write. I want to believe that they will break free. I want to believe that the cycle of abuse will end with them. If I were to continue this story, I would be afraid that I wouldn’t do them justice. That I wouldn’t be able to create a world where this wouldn’t continue to happen. And that really saddens me. I guess I could have lied and said sure they will but that’s not the world these women come from.