Book Review | Grip by Nina Hamberg


gripI am so grateful to Nina Hamberg for writing this memoir. I don’t remember the last time a book took my breath away quite like this one did.

Grip: A Memoir of Fierce Attractions begins during Nina’s teenage years, when a stranger breaks into her bedroom and attacks her in the middle of the night. This seemingly random event affects Nina dramatically, and the ensuing story is, in part, the story of how that event shaped her life. Much of this is such an ugly book: but so very necessary.

A lot of her difficulty dealing with this event was caused by the people in her life not understanding the magnitude of what happened. The police make no attempt to find the attacker, and her parents would prefer to pretend it never happened. Her attacker left a physical scar on her, and in one chapter Nina relates the story of compulsively flashing this scar to people. She says, “how hungry I was for someone, anyone, to express outrage over what had happened.” This resonated so deeply and personally with me, because I was the victim of childhood abuse, and no one in my life gave me what I really needed: the gift of anger.

In the afterward, Nina writes about her experience writing this book:

Suddenly, I wasn’t telling a hero’s story at all. I had to write myself as flawed, controlling, weak and lost. I had to admit great shame . . . the scenes . . . couldn’t just recount . . . passive manipulation and . . . explosive temper. They had to show my willing participation in our dance.

Ms. Hamberg did just that, and that is a large part of why this book was so exceptional and so effective. The reader gets the sense that the author is truly showing every side of the story, that the author is including every morsel of her experiences so that we, the readers, can understand the whole of her life as it unfolds.

This book is gripping, mesmerizing, and written with such beautiful, blunt and heartbreaking honesty. I cannot imagine how it must have felt to write something so raw and release it to the world, but Mrs. Hamberg – again, I am so grateful that you did.

p.s. It is my duty to inform you that I received a review copy of this book via the Goodreads First Reads program.

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