“For a long time, everything only happened to other people,” Julie Wade writes. Or so she thought. She records her falls. The “stunned body, the purloined speech” she experiences after crashing to the ground from a swing. The sensation of slipping from the platform saddle atop a circus elephant, sliding “flat as a penny against his wrinkled skin, rattling the bones of my ribs.” The shame and uncertainty of being spilled from the security of parental love. And, finally, triumphantly, the felix culpa, the fortunate fall, of love. Juxtaposed against the fragmentary structure of the memoir, this fall comprises both the energy source, the burning center of the book, and its thematic vantage point. Falling in love is an explosion in Julie’s mind as well as her body, an epiphany that remakes the map of her world, slicing the knot of her parents’ shame, unmasking the visceral truths of her body. In love she is in motion, reimagining the past, striking out on road trips. Suddenly, she is living, grabbing, tasting, writing, her mouth full of “honey and moonlight,” her mind afire. And we are reminded yes, this is what love does, this is how it saves us.
Julie Wade has received the Oscar Wilde Poetry Prize (2005), the Literal Latte Nonfiction Award (2006), the AWP Intro Journals Award for Nonfiction (2009), the American Literary Review Nonfiction Prize (2010), the Arts & Letters Nonfiction Prize (2010), the Thomas J. Hruska Nonfiction Prize (2011), the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Memoir (2011), and seven Pushcart Prize nominations.