As rising waters—and an encroaching police state—endanger her life and family, a girl with the gifts of a "carrier" travels through water and time to rescue vulnerable figures from the margins of history.
Lidia Yuknavitch’s extraordinary new novel is the weirdest, most mind-blowing book about America I’ve ever inhaled...Part history, part prophecy, all fever dream, Thrust offers a radical critique of the foundational ideals that conceal our persistent national crimes...As we march from Juneteenth to July 4, this is a story to scrub the patinated surface of our civic pride...In this dystopian vision of our drowned future, government functions have collapsed except, of course, the rabid pursuit of immigrants; that cause persists, the last shuddering movements of the body politic in its death throes...Amid this hellscape, we meet a strange little girl named Laisve, whose name means 'freedom' in Lithuanian, her frightened father hiding from the Raids...Yuknavitch’s descriptions of Brooklyn — now called simply the Brook — are incongruously precise and impressionistic, blending a dream’s concrete details floating in a cloud of terrors...As Thrust progresses, Yuknavitch drifts through several different storylines, separated by decades but threaded together by Laisve’s helpful visitations through the vast history of America’s halting struggle for freedom...Yuknavitch provides nothing less than a revised past and future of America with a vast new canon of attendant mythology...You might whine about the novel’s amorphous form, recurrent vagueness or multiple loose ends, but I read Thrust in a state of flustered fascination and finished longing to dream it again.
... forceful, fluid, erotic ... The chelonian wisdom he delivers can feel a little on the nose, a little over explicit. Of course it’s a wise old turtle spelling stuff out, I thought, when I was momentarily lifted from the magic of the book. Likewise, Laisvė is a collector, of objects, of information, and in her now-and-then recitals of facts, I couldn’t help but picture the author googling ... Which is in such contrast to much of the richness of the rest of the book, particularly the letter exchange between Aurora and her sculptor cousin, which is playful, fiery, intelligent, teasing, exploratory, and highly sexual. Yuknavitch captures the erotic imprinting that takes place when we’re children ... She places herself in the heated spot where violence and desire, pleasure and pain, intersect. She knows that the extreme states open doors to new places, portals to realms outside ourselves that allow us back in in new ways ... To term what occurs kink is perhaps to understate the way Yuknavitch presents the vast, explorable territory of our sexuality and the possibilities it offers to us ... People use the word 'braided' to describe books that plait different plotlines, voices, modes of storytelling. But braiding doesn’t feel accurate for what Yuknavitch is doing. In her work, our stories, our bodies — the two are inseparable for Yuknavitch — are not braided but bound, tied together by a thready net, joined like mycelium in a tangling spread athrob below the surface, knotted by ancestral ropes, umbilically linked forward and back. To know those binds, the torque and tug of them, is to have those fragmented parts — of ourselves, our histories, our countries, our world — pieced back together. In these binds, Yuknavitch shows us, what’s available, in a beautiful paradox, is the deepest kind of freedom.
... willfully difficult ... sprawling, fragmented structure calls centrality itself into question (as well as liberté, égalité and, most particularly, fraternité) ... Some of these passages feel preachy, like they’d better belong in The Nation than a novel ... It’s hard to buck the critical tide here — Yuknavitch elicits rapture in many readers — but also hard to maintain a grip on characters so obviously laden, heavy with meaning greater than themselves. Thrust is an indignant and impressive novel, but only in spurts an enjoyable one, and maybe that’s exactly the point. Some will hurl it unfinished across the room. Others will savor its elaborately orchestrated punishments.