Monday, June 6, 2011
Review: I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl: A Memoir by Kelle Groom
Title: I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl: A Memoir by Kelle Groom
Publisher: Free Press
Published: June 7, 2011
I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl is Kelle Groom's harrowing account of the despair of her struggle with alcoholism and the emotional aftershocks of the birth, adoption and death of her only child. Alternating between past and present, Groom details her journey to sobriety and her journey to come to terms with her son's brief life.
From the onset, I Wore the Ocean is a very difficult book to get through. There are multiple accounts of violence towards herself, the birth of her son, her self loathing, accounts of anonymous sex and rape, and the many blackouts that she suffered. To see the depths she put herself and her loved ones through, saddens one and at times causes her to be a very difficult person to like. Luckily, her willingness to tell the whole story, even the parts that make her seem deplorable, makes her story compelling. You want her to win her battle with alcoholism and are glad when she starts making concrete steps to sobriety. The hardest part of the book is knowing she is intelligent enough to do better but seeing her addiction pulls her to rock bottom.
Groom is devastated by the death of her son that she gave up for adoption. She knows intellectually that she cannot care for him as a full blown alcoholic. Yet, she is unable to stop thinking about him. Hearing about his death, just drives her further into alcoholism. It isn't until she is emerging from alcoholism that she is able to think about who he was and might have been. Over two decades, after his death she is able to talk openly about him and ask the relatives who adopted him about his life. Groom is relieved to be able to share in his life
Groom's book is full of ocean and water imagery. Her nickname as a child is "ocean girl". When she is away from the coast, she feels unsettled and out of place. Someone who saw me reading the book pondered whether title is an allusion to the way the ocean wears away all in its path to sand. Groom's accounts can be like a current - calm at times, violent and stormy in others, buoying one in lighter moments or brutally battering.
I received this book from the publisher Free Press in exchange for my honest opinion.