"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Learning to Swim: a Memoir by Ann Turner




"Listen I am trying
to remember everything
because it keeps coming back 
like a skunk dog
on the porch
whining to get in,
and I'm afraid
if I don't let it in
it will never
go away."
          -Listen by Ann Turner






The skunk dog on the porch is sexual abuse and this moving memoir, written all in verse, is part of a cathartic process that Ann Turner went through to rid herself of the demons caused by the event.  In the note at the end of the book Turner explains: "When I first started these poems it was terribly painful, like eating ground glass.  But at the same time, when they came pouring out of my heart and through my flying fingers, I felt washed, cleansed, and somehow renewed."

This short 100 page memoir is divided into three sections:
Sailing- arriving at the cabin on the lake with her family; preparing for a summer of fun.
Sinking- a neighborhood boy rapes her and warns her not to tell a soul.
Swimming- she eventually does tell and the adults in her life gather round to help, love, and to teach her how to swim.

Not a cheery subject, to be sure, but the book is very powerful especially in its message of the importance of telling a trusted adult so that the abuse will stop.  I will keep this book in mind when I have need of it for special referrals.




1 comment:

  1. Powerful book...I use some of the poems from this collection/ novel in verse when I teach Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak. Thanks for the review!

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