I fell into Kate’s voice, wise with middle-age, cuttingly honest, panic-stricken. The elegance of the prose seduced me away from my secular life into a full day with an ex-scientist who has taken up cheese making in the country. As I hung out with Kate during a critical day in her life I felt her rage against man’s abuse of nature; her denial, her screaming anxiety about her baby grandchildren. I felt her hand in the vat as she breaks the milk over and over, refusing to admit that she is a nervous wreck.
‘Don’t come!’ Her daughter has said, beseeching Kate to keep her distance when she should want her mother close. This day is the day when her daughter’s conjoined twins are being separated at the brain by a surgeon’s knife.
Breaking Milk is a book about the things that should be separated to survive and that which should never be split. It’s about convictions and opinions and how human interaction can derail them in an instant. As hard as Kate tries to cling to her principles, real life arrives and knocks her off her cerebral center again and again. The ambushes are fantastic, building pressure in ways I would never have guessed. These interactions are preposterous, often hilarious but you feel the twist of the knife at the same time. Kate’s flashes of instinct screw with her logic until, I can tell you now, things get hot. Anatomical, you might say, in a non-medical sense. As Kate struggles to steer her cognition I felt my own thoughts breaking up and reforming in a different shape. ‘Don’t be surprised if you surprise yourself’, the book seems to be saying. It’s hard to explain. Read it, you’ll see what I mean.
Review first posted on the GBAS FB page.