The Pisces by Melissa Broder
Published by Hogarth Press on May 1, 2018
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Goodreads avg: 3.37 (as of 2018-07-26)
cw: animal abuse, animal death, suicide, domestic abuse, graphic sex
An original, imaginative, and hilarious debut novel about love, anxiety, and sea creatures, from the author of So Sad Today.
Lucy has been writing her dissertation about Sappho for thirteen years when she and Jamie break up. After she hits rock bottom in Phoenix, her Los Angeles-based sister insists Lucy housesit for the summer—her only tasks caring for a beloved diabetic dog and trying to learn to care for herself. Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube atop Venice Beach, but Lucy can find no peace from her misery and anxiety—not in her love addiction group therapy meetings, not in frequent Tinder meetups, not in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection, not in ruminating on the ancient Greeks. Yet everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer one night while sitting alone on the beach rocks.
Whip-smart, neurotically funny, sexy, and above all, fearless, The Pisces is built on a premise both sirenic and incredibly real—what happens when you think love will save you but are afraid it might also kill you.
Let me lead this off by saying that this is an extremely divisive book — the goodreads rating makes that pretty clear. I’ve been looking forward to reading this since October. As soon as it was on my radar, I knew that it was something I would enjoy. I mean, I am a pisces after all. If that’s not explanation enough, I also love stories that incorporate fantasy elements into an otherwise realistic setting.
I knew that what I wanted was something that couldn’t exist. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t something I wanted.
I found myself incredibly emotionally invested in the main character from the start. I connected deeply to her in a way that I haven’t connected to a fictional character in quite some time. She’s depressed, suicidal, lovesick, and a hopeless romantic. She is struggling with an addiction of sorts, and she does arguably terrible things to get what she feels she needs. She is an extremely flawed character and yet, I also found her to be one of the most sympathetic characters I’d ever read. I felt for her so hard that I continually had to take breaks from the book because I felt it would drag me down otherwise.
I have no desire to feel in a contained way. For me, it is all or nothing.
There were a lot of other uncomfortable elements to this book as well. This was by no means an easy read, yet for some reason I found myself thinking “I wish I could read this book every day for the rest of my life” the entire time. This was a really beautiful story of self-discovery through pain, and I think that provides some hope to those of us who go through similar pain.
And why would I choose to recover unless everything was total and complete shit? If there was one sparkle, one possibility of getting as high as I could off a person, why would I throw that potentiality away? You had to hold out for these moments until you knew for sure they were gone and never coming back.
Like I said, though, this book is truly not for everyone. This seems to be one of those books that you either really vibe with or really don’t. I was lucky enough to fall into the first category and I’ll be very surprised if read another book in 2018 that I love as much as this one. I’ll be recommending this to almost everyone I know, with an emphasis on checking the content warnings before going into it. If you can handle this book, it is absolutely worth picking up.
I hadn’t known that I‘d wanted joy either. I had not ever known that I could have it. Now I was crying because it felt like a miracle — not only that I would want to live at all, but that I actually could.