cover image Thrust


Lidia Yuknavitch. Riverhead, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-525-53490-7

The blistering and visionary latest from Yuknavitch (The Book of Joan) follows a time-traveling girl on the run with her father in a bleak near future. Laisvė , an enchanted and motherless girl, keeps company with worms and whales as she flees with her single father from “Raids” perpetrated by ICE-like squads, “armed men in vans snaking like killer whales through the streets” of The Brook, a city suffused by water and comprising much of what appears to be Brooklyn and lower Manhattan. But Laisvė has a gift; she is a “carrier,” able to move through time with the aid of a talking box turtle and reach fellow outsiders hailing from various points in history, arriving to help unroot them from the nightmares of their time. There is Mikael, the imprisoned “floating boy” of possibly criminal character in 1995; the early 21st century Mohawk laborer Joseph, filled with visions of his people; the 19th-century sculptor Frédéric, designer of the Statue of Liberty (the arduous construction of which becomes a recurring motif); and Aurora, who loses a leg during the Civil War and later becomes a sex worker. As Laisvė visits different periods of the region’s history, there are taxonomies of beasts and bugs, and meditations on Amazonian fungi that give way to histories of vanished peoples and their imprint on the land they worked. “Stories are quantum,” as Laisvė narrates, and Yuknavitch preserves the courage and eccentricity of her subjects by subverting any impulse toward rote orthodox storytelling. Instead, she offers a cracked mirror, an untethered dream, and a catch-all for myriad strands of history through which the reader may pleasurably roam free. This is the author’s best yet. (June)