Book Review: Quicksand


“Quicksand” is an apt metaphor for being in an abusive relationship.  We can be so in awe of a walk on a beach that we don’t notice the quicksand until we are mired in it and struggling like hell to get out alive.  We can also be so giddy that a sexy, wealthy heartthrob wants to date us that we don’t timely notice the Blackbeard lurking beneath the handsome facade.  Been there.

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito should probably be required reading by every girl and her parents before she goes on her first date.  We’re all familiar with “the talk” that Black parents deliver to their sons, but we are less aware of “the talk” good parents should deliver to their daughters.  Instead, too many parents are so ecstatic that their daughter has landed a “prize” that they are oblivious to the warning signs that he isn’t, in fact, a good catch.  And, they send their daughter destructive messages that it is her job to “fix” him.  Been there too.

Malin Persson Giolito with her daughters

Maja Norberg’s parents are self-absorbed, wealthy narcissists who take credit for her brilliance and self-sufficiency.  They don’t see her as a teenager who is desperate for parental guidance.  They are so thrilled that Sebastian Fagerman, the son of Sweden’s wealthiest man, wants to date her that they don’t notice Sebastian is a white hot mess.  His father Claes is equally narcissistic and extremely abusive.  Both sets of parents expect Maja to assume their responsibility of dealing with his drug addiction and suicidal ideations.  It doesn’t end well.

Quicksand presents the inextricable links between neglectful parents, child abuse, dating abuse/sexual assault, and shooting rampages. Almost all shooting rampages are rooted in domestic violence and/or child abuse with the perpetrator killing family members first.  Spoiler alert:  Sebastian kills his father before he goes on a shooting rampage at his prep school.

Malin Persson Giolito

Maja accepts blame for the rampage until she hears her attorney’s closing arguments during her trial.  Why?  She’s been accepting responsibility for the consequences of other people’s actions her whole life.  Been there too:

I sank.  Right down into the quicksand. . .I sank deeper and deeper. . .I didn’t do anything.  I didn’t scream.  Didn’t cry.  I couldn’t do anything, because I would drown.

Malin Persson Giolito

The first chapters of Quicksand should have been edited down to a few pages, but it eventually picks up and becomes an intriguing story. It is quite thought-provoking and may be unsettling for abuse survivors to read. Maja asks hard questions that many adults may not want to acknowledge or answer:

The greatest of these is love, they say.  People use that quote all the time, and some even seem to think it’s true. . .But it’s not true.  Because the greatest of all is fear, the terror of dying.  Love means nothing when you believe you’re going to die [during a shooting rampage].

Leif G. W. Persson and Malin Persson Giolito

There is a limit to how unequal a society
can become and continue to remain
a stable democracy.
– Malin Persson Gioloto, Quicksand

Quicksand is this month’s World’s Best Book Club selection.  The author Malin Persson Gioloto is a Swedish attorney who is now following her father’s career path as a writer.  She is married to Christophe Giolito, who is an attorney for the European Union.

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