Gymnopedie by Lauren Wantz

March 20, 2019

By Lucy Harris


I’d like to think that I am receptive and amenable when it comes to reading. Although I have my preferences, I try not to be intolerant towards just on the genre. I read a wide range of books in a wide variety of genres. But I especially enjoy a book if I feel a connection to it. Admittedly, I read a lot of books that I have no known connection to and have liked them quite a lot. But finding a book that I have a connection to is also very enjoyable and rewarding. So, about this book. I did like it. It was different enough that it took me a minute to get into the swing of it. But I really liked it.
 

This is a story about Laura, a mentally ill young girl whose sickness is only getting worse as she is carted in and out of "Gymnopedie," a famed mental hospital. While she is going through this, another woman, Lilith, is living in Gymnopedie in the 19th century, and though neither woman is conscious of the other, their stories overlap with uncanny synchronicity as they both slowly try to heal themselves against the unfavorable odds through writing. This is one of those books that is able to transport the reader easily into the times and lives of the characters. As for the story, it is well done. Wantz has created a character who I want to see develop. I want to see her growth, I want to see her succeed, I want to see her choices. Instead of a one-off novel a reader would read once and forget, we have been given a novel who invites the reader into a developing and expanding universe ripe with potential.

I struggle with finding emotionally appropriate books for a young, advanced reader, and this is one I would recommend to youngsters with no worries. Wantz’ writing is forthright, appropriate, intelligent, and conversational - truly one of the books in this genre that should be read time and again. Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a little extra push to get outside themselves and more fully embrace life. 

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