I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl: A Memoir Audio CD – Audiobook, 27 Jun 2011
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About the Author
Kelle Groom, the author of three poetry collections, has been published in "The New Yorker" and "Ploughshares, "among other magazines. Her work was included in "Best American Poetry 2010" and has received special mention in the "Pushcart Prize "and "Best American Non-Required Reading "anthologies. She lives in Florida. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
"“"If any memoir has a pulse running through it, if any work of art contains within it the potential of transcendence, it is in your hands". I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl" begins in a kind of glorious, terrible, ridiculous chaos, but then as we get closer and closer to its heartbreaking center and to the narrator herself, the “heavy things” start falling off – of her, of us – a heaviness we didn’t know we’d even been carrying. Kelle Groom has somehow found a container for each bright, hard spark of this life.” —Nick Flynn, author of "Another Bullshit Night in Suck City"
"""If any memoir has a pulse running through it, if any work of art contains within it the potential of transcendence, it is in your hands". I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl" begins in a kind of glorious, terrible, ridiculous chaos, but then as we get closer and closer to its heartbreaking center and to the narrator herself, the "heavy things" start falling off - of her, of us - a heaviness we didn't know we'd even been carrying. Kelle Groom has somehow found a container for each bright, hard spark of this life."
--Nick Flynn, author of "Another Bullshit Night in Suck City"
"[Groom's] writing is a wonderfully compelling mix of simple and lyrical: there are stream-of-consciousness fragments ('Chain-link fence, metal door like on a submarine') and contemplative sentences ('I hoped that by writing about Tommy, I could find him')."
"The triumph of Kelle Groom's memoir, "I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl" (Free Press), lies in her plangent, poetic prose as she lays bare the onset of her alcoholism at age 15, the child she bore and gave up at 19, and her dead-end jobs, upset parents, blackouts, hookups, and, eventually, slow and steadfast embrace of a sober, creative life."
"The language of this brooding and obsessive memoir is exquisitely compressed, yet beneath the taut imagery and diction are palpable, powerful surges of emotions. A visceral, darkly lyrical narrative that reads with the immediacy and rawness of an open wound."
"[A] series of beautifully compressed narratives....As heartbreaking as this book is, Groom writes with a captivating urgency. Her salvation, a result of her tireless quest for clarity, will leave you cheering."
-- "More" magazine
""I" Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl"" took my breath, and then my heart, away. That Kelle Groom survived to tell this story of addiction and her descent into hell is a miracle--but so is the deep wide lyrical profundity of the writing--writing as thrilling and moving as the story is redemptive and light-giving. The effect this book had on me is no different from the one I had when I found my first poem, while leafing through the "Book of Knowledge" in my childhood home. It was by Wordsworth and my heart stopped as I realized without the words to say: that the smallest moments can hold such meaning, can define without definition, can describe without description what it means to be alive. "I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl" reminded me of what literature can do."
--Beverly Donofrio, author of "Riding in Cars With Boys"
"[A] searing yet lyrical memoir."
"Poet Groom's stunning memoir reads more like poetry than prose and leaves the 'brain singing with neurons like a city at night.' . . . . Her astonishing struggle and unique resurrection illuminate the universal human effort to embrace one's self, accepting personal flaws, demons, and methods of survival."
."...Without an ounce of vanity or self-pity, she here describes that death spiral in the gorgeous, poetic language that is the backbone of this unflinching look at a life saved by forgiveness. What I am telling my Friends: Are you a human being? Read this book! If part of what a poet does is alchemy, Groom has got that part of her craft down. And the graceful example set by her aunt and uncle is awe-inspiring."
--"Library Journal, " Starred Review
"Her image-rich prose and unconventional sense of the paragraph surprise and resonate. Dynamic passages, often intentionally unhinged, tug against familiar expectations that paragraphs are units of cohesive thoughts...Groom writes about herself without pretending and about others without blaming, delivering wide-eyed observations even in low-lit, murky places...Closing Groom's book I hear Eudora Welty and Walt Whitman... The ocean is worn, the girl is shaped, visible."
"--The New York Times Book Review"
"[S]o piercing and true that you live the story as much as read it. Part of the book's emotional wallop is due to how it's organized--in short, dreamy chapters than skip forward and backward in time, letting you piece together the chronology yourself--and part of it is due to Groom's exquisite, lyrical prose... [an] extraordinarily moving book..."
"After reading "I Wore the Ocean", you'll wish that more poets would write their lives in prose -- Groom's voice feels vital and awake, uncompromising and refreshingly spare. Groom beautifully summons the smallest moments from her memory."
--NPR.org --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I did like this book even though it was a difficult read and I had to take breaks in between each chapter. You can imagine that the journals Groom wrote were somehow infused with the alcohol she drank at times. There is a bit of skipping around in the timeline which made it easier for me to read this one chapter at a time and digest it as I went along. I am so glad the Groom slowly comes to terms with what happened to her in her life and survived devastating things like her rape, the loss of her son and the sadness that really enveloped her life. There is redemption at the end!
It's not surprising that, prior to this memoir, Kelle published three collections of poems: "Five Kingdoms" (Anhinga Press, 2010); "Luckily" (Anhinga, 2006); and "Underwater City" (University Press of Florida, 2004). The prose of I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl reads as if it one long poem. Her voice, heartbreaking and beautiful, shines through every word in this memoir of personal survival.
At the age of 19, Kelle became pregnant and decided to give up the child for adoption by her uncle and aunt. She honestly admits to her personal flaws that led her to this decision, including her own alcoholism and abuse towards a child she had babysat for.
Kelle's story is not just about a mother giving up her child, but a woman who struggles with the decisions of her life. It's not just the plot of her life that is intriguing, but her internal processing of the events that occurred in her life. Kelle doesn't hold anything back. She shares the depths of her heart with her reader.
Although it was often difficult to read about the darker parts of Kelle's life, this was a book that I couldn't put down. Even though I was reading three or four other books at the time, I found myself putting them all aside until I could finish I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl. I had to finish, had to read to the end. I read it in two days, only stopping for such important interruptions as work and mothering.
[This review originally appeared on Unintentionally-Brilliant.com.]
Every once in awhile, you find a book that has the amazing ability to move you in just a few sentences. This is one of those books. The story matter itself will definitely tug on you a little bit but it's worth fighting through the difficult parts to get to the pearls of some of her lines. Groom's writing is almost poetic in a way. She uses some really gorgeous metaphors and turns of phrase that almost make you feel as if you are floating through her journey.
The storyline of the book isn't necessarily in sequential order and I found that sort of difficult to keep up with. Even with that minor annoyance, this book is so worth it. This book is raw and real and will shake you up.
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This book is f****** deep!!! It was almost exhausting to read at first since every sentence is so lyrical. This is the most potent writer I have read from in a while. Every sentence, every word...was necessary. How often, can you say that about a book?
If you are a true fan of reading, this is a must.
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.