Sometimes, I go to nonfiction books and find out how to fix whatever I think needs fixing in my life. Then, sometimes, I happen across a fiction book that inspires me to seek out the fix. Free Style is one of those books.
Like Idalis, when my life went to hell, I went looking in my past for the solution. I did exactly what she did and with the same results: I went looking for a long-ago love who I thought would “fix” me. I went looking for the woman who I loved so hard, so deeply that I hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her for eight years - the one who I thought also loved me, despite breaking up with me to be with someone else. It turns out that Idalis and I had similar results, too.
Free Style started out slowly for me, probably because I was hoping it would be like one of my favorite books, The Dirty Girls Social Club. It isn’t, but it turns out to be an excellent book in its own right.
Many women who expect their marriages to last, for their lives to follow the course they’ve set for them; when they don’t, it’s (to say the least) unsettling. Idalis is unsettled and uncertain. She also, like many of us, doesn’t want to see what it is about her that might be contributing to the situation at hand.
The writing here isn’t sophisticated, but that’s sort of the point. Idalis is not a sophisticated woman, and she has spent a long time trying to be something she isn’t, trying to want things she doesn’t want because she’s been told she is supposed to want them.
This is a quote from the very end of Free Style which sums it up perfectly:
“…all I could think about was how funny the universe was. No matter how much you planned and worked and dreamed, it would always offer you little surprises. I realized that you just have to go with the flow, or fight it and never find true happiness.”