My Sweet Wild Dance

by M. M. Adjarian

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday March 11, 2010

My Sweet Wild Dance

Mikaya Heart's autobiographical My Sweet Wild Dance is soul-refreshment of the highest order. Told from the first-person perspective of Heart's narrative persona, Chris Brixton, the book chronicles the writer's repressive upbringing in 1950s Scotland and her struggle to liberate herself from the class and gender restrictions placed upon her by circumstances of birth.

The daughter of impoverished aristocrats, Chris is a feisty, nature-loving tomboy who cannot conform to the ladylike norms of femininity to which her parents (and especially her father) subscribe. Gender bias is rampant in her world; with few exceptions, females simply do not command respect. Men denigrate women and sexually abuse female children--including Chris--with no remorse.

The narrator is attracted to girls from a young age. But as an adolescent, she enters a period of heterosexual promiscuity, sleeping with "John" after faceless "John." It is only in her mid-twenties, after travel through India and Europe and involvement with drugs and Pro-Irish radical politics, that the narrator finally embraces her lesbian identity and begins the process of healing her brutalized sexuality.

Knowing she will never find acceptance in Britain as an upper class dyke, Chris goes to Northern California where she settles in a rugged back country area near San Francisco. Drawing on her skills as a carpenter, mechanic, and gardener, this Jill-of-all-trades consciously crafts a life that suits her fiercely independent ways. Along the way and through travels that take her into--among other places--the forest wilderness of Montana, she comes into contact with shamanic practices she uses to define a spiritual path. By the end of the book, and almost as if to highlight the progress in her own growth, Chris, now a mature woman of fifty, takes up kite-surfing. The wind she has always followed now becomes her ultimate partner in the great dance of life.

The waywardness of Chris's inner and outer journey is mirrored in the story itself, which moves from place to place without apparent forethought. This "wandering," which always takes place in the present tense, at times creates a sense of narrative disjointedness. Heart more than makes up for this with her profound emotional honesty. As she says in the preface, feelings are at the core of what she writes. Her life--in all its random movement and complexity--is merely the vehicle for their expression.

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing. Publication Date: September, 2009. Pages: 252. Price: $16.95. Format: Paperback. ISBN: 978-1-608-440-702


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M. M. Adjarian is a Dallas-based freelance writer. She contributes to EDGE, the Dallas Voice, SheWired and Arts + Culture DFW and is a book reviewer for Kirkus.