When I attended the Literary Lollapalooza, one of the authors I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with was Kelle Groom. Kelle is the author of the memoir, I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl. I received a copy of her memoir from my former professor at Sierra Nevada College, June Saraceno, as a thank you gift for helping her with the English Program’s blog.
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.
For more information on Kelle Groom and I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl, please visit www.kellegroom.com. Kelle is currently Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Sierra Nevada College, where she is also on the faculty of the low-residency MFA Program. She is also a contributing editor of The Florida Review.
***I received a copy of this book from a friend. I have received no compensation, in any form, for this review. All opinions are my very own.***