Like the Ocean which literally and metaphorically flows through the text, Julie Marie Wade’s Wishbone: A Memoir in Fractures is an ever changing exploration of a life lived.  Unfolding like memory itself, Wishbone doesn’t fall victim to the constraints of linear timelines.

Instead the text flows seamlessly in and out of time and identity, chronicling sometimes-difficult though always insightful glimpses into Wade’s life. There is a raw naturalness to her words beneath a highly polished exterior that I find particularly captivating, and it is an important contribution to the world of lesbian memoir.

Weaving in and out of time, fractured stories that at first might seem insignificant or out of place become both building block and culmination as her life becomes pieced together.  The strength in Wade’s writing is tied to the excruciating detail with which she has been able to recount the seemingly insignificant moments in life, and their greater meaning. It is the simple moments, that unbeknownst to us so often set in motion a kind of break from who we’d been, or who we thought we’d be. These are the sorts of moments that Wade masterfully captures.

I was personally drawn to Wade’s framing of childhood. She writes  “I remember childhood as a slow incision across the throat: a stencil, a scalpel, a scar” (94). These fractured stories flow in and out of the text, but maintain a childlike quality and sense of awareness that feels anything but contrived or gimmicky.

Ever present is a loneliness of not belonging, and of queerness yet unnamed. This is then coupled with the trauma of first understanding mortality as well as the profound failings of adults to be protective and nurturing, and is beautifully and provocatively handled.

I found equally profound Wade’s conversations around queerness itself, specifically in terms of the legibility.  What does it mean to be gay? The familial and social perceptions of who one is, the retelling of history, stories and memories that follows as people struggle to grasp identity, or deny the possibility.  Present too within the text were shards of stories about the danger of being seen as queer. The ramifications of being read as such in small towns and the way passion can bloom out of that dangerous soil.

Wishbone is an exquisite blending together of stories. It is a winding and rewinding and stitching together of lifetimes, bodies, and experiences.  Above all, it is a fine riddle that leaves a reader deep in thought and yearning for more, long after the final page.

Wishbone: A Memoir in Fractures
by Julie Marie Wade
Colgate University Press
978-0912568218, Paperback,



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  • Lou Kief

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