My Sweet Wild Dance
by Mikaya Heart

Dog Ear Publishing, 2009. ISBN 978-1-608-44070-2.
Reviewed by Martha Meacham
Posted on 04/19/2010

Nonfiction: Memoir

If you are a woman who came of age in the 1960's and were raised by parents whose lives were shaped by the Great Depression and World War II, some of this author's story may ring true for you. On the other hand, Mikaya Heart's story, My Sweet, Wild Dance, is as unique as her pen name.

This feisty Scotswoman's story has three strands running through it: innocent child betrayed by adults in her life, radical "butch dyke" (her own words) who did not associate with heterosexuals,and finally self-confident woman whose world is full of love and joy.

Mikaya Heart's writing style is unique: she stays in the present tense for all phases of her life and uses "Queen's English" dialect to portray her life in the British Isles and a more informal American voice to tell her story of living in California. To me, the strength of the narrative is that it tells the story of transformative growth in the face of adversity. Her path to becoming whole came via her love of nature and deep reflections. Her descriptions of her natural surroundings are vivid. She shares that she learned to accept her whole self through alternative healing therapies, oneness with Earth Mother, and relating to the creatures inhabiting this realm. Mikaya Heart is "mastering the art of self-mastery."

I chose to read this book because it promised to tell the story of a woman's journey of spiritual discovery. In particular, I wanted to read about her hippie life exploring different belief systems and global travel. However, I felt that the period in her life when she was living on a commune is given short shrift and her spiritual journey is packed into just a few of the concluding chapters.

Though some women might find that Mikaya's story helps them reconcile their own similar feelings from childhood, I found her account as a child in the British Isles difficult to read, much like parts from the Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls were for me. I squirm at depictions of powerless children tormented by abusers. I empathize with the author's painful reflections upon repeated betrayals by people close to her. Nonetheless, her dislike and anger towards her mother and father, and later men in general, permeate a good deal of the story. The author in the prologue professes to be interested in "joy" and not "tragedy," but the reader is showered with a great deal of unhappy energy throughout much of the book. By the time I arrived at the last few chapters, I already felt quite beaten and battered from raw emotions.

There is explicit erotica included in the story as the author embraces her rekindled sexuality. Mikaya Heart speaks her truth courageously and shares her intimate thoughts with the world.

Her anger melts away as she examines the roots of her fears in therapy and works to rid herself of her father's control. She states "Growing up is fraught with contradictions." After the angst and turmoil of most of the book, the resolution to the story is uplifting.

Mikaya Heart is the author of several books and articles. She has traveled the world making peace with herself and her family. Presently her passion is kitesurfing and seeking joy. Visit her website.

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