The Misfit's Manifesto

The author of a deeply affecting memoir and several novels starring strong girls and women, including the recent The Book of Joan, Lidia Yuknavitch throws a life raft to struggling, depressed, addicted and broken outcasts everywhere with The Misfit's Manifesto. This slim work of nonfiction picks up where her TED talk, "The Beauty of Being a Misfit," leaves off by first defining misfit not as someone who occasionally feels "like a failure or left out," but as someone who "never found a way to fit in at all, from the get-go."

With unflinching detail and prose so clear it cuts like crystal, Yuknavitch describes the experiences that led to her own misfit-dom: an abusive childhood, the death of her daughter, her subsequent struggle with drug addiction. Between these personal admissions are the stories of friends who also identify as misfits. There's the vet who learned to cope with PTSD by helping others; the transgender parent who asks to be called "dad" though he used to identify as a woman; the half-white, half-American Indian woman whose white family members call her "brainwashed" for caring about the environment.

Each story inspires, but none are treated as two-dimensional hero narratives. "Suffering is not a state of grace," writes Yuknavitch. But it does teach most of us, and misfits especially, how to get creative and survive. That's the take-home message, and it's a gift for anyone who reads it. --Amy Brady, freelance writer and editor

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