Swallow the Ocean
Praise for Swallow the Ocean:
A remarkable accomplishment–this family tragedy that refuses to be tragic, unfolding with novelistic power and the dignity of faithful documentation. Laura Flynn has given us an indispensable memoir, luminous and strangely heartening, a work of consummate grace and hard-won buoyancy. It’s a triumph of spirit and a mesmerizing read.
–Patricia Hampl, author of The Florist’s Daughter
Swallow the Ocean will swallow you whole then wash over you with love. It is a beautifully written memoir of a girl’s, then a woman’s desire, and need, to connect with a mother who continues to slip further and further away. Poetic and masterful, this is a memoir you won’t soon forget.
–Edwidge Danticat, author of Brother, I’m Dying
Laura Flynn’s Swallow the Ocean is an unforgettable memoir growing up in the care of a schizophrenic mother. It is also about enchantment. Beautifully written, the book gains force and momentum in its depiction of an ongoing childhood nightmare that seems, to those experiencing it, almost ordinary. It demonstrates how resilient children can be…. and how wonderful the ‘normal’ can appear to be to a child who has been excluded from it.
– Charles Baxter, author of The Feast of Love
About the Book:
As a little girl, Laura Flynn thought her mother could do no wrong. A strong, free spirit, Sally Flynn sparked her daughter’s imagination with games and stories of her youth––when she’d set off for Paris in 1960, met Laura’s father, and criss-crossed Europe. The couple later settled in San Francisco and had three daughters, embarking on what might have been the most charmed of family lives.
Instead, by the time Laura was eight, Sally’s hold on reality began to slip. She turned to her dreams for messages and portents, set strict rules for what her daughters could eat and wear, and came to believe her husband was the devil himself — or at least that he was under the devil’s power — that he had “crossed the line.” After Laura’s parents divorced, her father struggled to gain custody, while Sally waged a pitched battle for her daughters’ souls. Forced to make impossible choices, the three girls retreated to books, stories, and elaborate games, creating a powerfully protective world of imagination.
Set in 1970s San Francisco, Swallow the Ocean is the beautifully written true story of what it’s like to experience a parent’s schizophrenia through the lens of a child who has no language for mental illness. Most of all, this stunning memoir is a tribute to the ingenuity of children in the face of catastrophic events.