Groom's writing is undeniably beautiful, but her story is not told chronologically and quite a few times I found myself confused, unsure of where she was living and what had happened. The writing style is already quite abstract and metaphoric, so I feel like a little more clarity when it came to the timeline of events would have helped with understanding it. Like History of a Suicide by Jill Bialosky, I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl is clearly written by a poet in a way that is unique and engrossing. However, unlike Bialosky's examination of the science behind suicide, Groom's story is entirely personal and all the more heartbreaking because of the incredible pain she has suffered. In fact, so many tragic things happen to Groom that if this wasn't a memoir, it wouldn't make believable fiction, from drinking to rape to death, this is certainly not an uplifting story.
Particularly beautiful, as well as painful, are Groom's writings on what life was growing up, on how alcohol changed her, and the things she experienced as a young woman. Perhaps it is my own age that made it difficult to connect with some of her experiences as she reached middle-age, but it seems more that with the passing of time Groom is able to capture her past with a blurred, yet sharp, lens that recent events do not allow for. She is general with the details and yet specific with her metaphors. At one point she writes:
"I could be made of felt, cut into the shape of a woman- I keep arranging an expression on my face that is the opposite of crying."Making the reader wish so desperately they could reach through the page and comfort her with a hug. In writing about alcoholism, Groom not only offers a cautionary warning about the downward spiral it presents, but also helps the reader understand the incredibly seductive and addictive nature of the beast. Ultimately though, I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl is a tale of redemption, and for every person like Groom who overcomes immense suffering, there are those that shatter in the face of such pain and although I found her story confusing at times it manages to bring hope to a situation which may seem irrevocably bleak.
Release Date: June 7th 2011
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Source: Simon and Schuster Galley Grab