Lidia Yuknavitch describes her complicated childhood and subsequent life striggles. Lidia Yuknavitch is primarily a swimmer. The book begins with her as a young woman in deep grief over the stillbirth of her daughter. From there the book takes us back through her life in an anachronistic narrative that tries to replicate the twisting and bending nature of water itself. Lidia discusses her complicated family. A crippled mother, two daughters, and the father that horrifically abuses all of them. Lidia is able to escape with a swimming scholarship, and from there we follow her life as she struggles with drug addiction, fails out of school, and tries to escape her past. At the same time, she is discovering her own bisexuality, and trying to come to terms with the failed marriage that ended in her miscarriage. She struggles to find her own artistic voice as well, and she and her sister both try to heal from their shared memories. The book does not provide any easy answers, but we do follow Lidia as she ultimately manages to find a way to survive.
Best part of story, including ending:
This is a beautiful book. The prose is absolutely stunning. It keeps you on your toes in various ways, such as switching between lovely poetic passages straight into relaxed phrases like "doing the tinkle dance" and the casual use of swear words and slang. It really is just a beautifully written book. That being said, while I enjoyed the aforementioned shifts in tone, they aren't necessarily for everybody. I know plenty of people who found it a bit jarring. At the same time, the language sometimes has a habit of just hinting at certain things, when the audience would probably prefer that Lidia just state them plainly. The mixed order of events combined with the airy language can make it difficult to follow exactly what's happening.
Best scene in story:
There is a scene in which Lidia is about nine, and she and her family go for a drive into the mountains to supposedly cut down a Christmas tree. However, at a certain point Lidia's father drags her sister away, and Lidia and her mother crouch in the car for warmth. To the audience it's clear what's happening- the father is molesting Lidia's sister out of view of the rest of the family- but while they're in the car Lidia's mom is trying to distract her by playing a game pretending they're Pat Boone trying to survive in the wilderness. It's really just one of the most heart-wrenching scenes I've ever read. The fact that Lidia is able to make it so clear what's really going on without ever specifically stating the situation is a testament to her skill as a writer. It's one of the most tragic and subtle descriptions of a rape that I've ever read, and it really brings out that tragedy without hitting the audience over the head with it.
Opinion about the main character:
Lidia Yuknavitch is kind of a confusing character. If she were fictional I'd say she's difficult to believe, but she is a real person and this is obviously her own biography, so of course she's real. The main problem I find with her is that she's really difficult to relate to- certainly the audience empathizes with her, but she's lead such an insane life that it's kind of difficult to find common ground with her. Her sexual experiences, and her experiences with drugs (combined with the fact that she's met several famous authors in her life, like Ken Kesey) make her seem somewhat over the top. She reads more like a character in a novel than an actual woman. Again, there isn't really a point where the audience dislikes her or anything, but she isn't really easy to understand.