The Misfit’s Manifesto by Lidia Yuknavitch. A self-help book published by author Lidia Yuknavitch, October 2017. Photo By Macy Potter.

“A beautifully written field guide to being weird,” writes Kirkus Reviews. The Misfit’s Manifesto is a self-help book published in late October 2017 by author Lidia Yuknavitch. It is a tale of those who don’t belong, and it is insightful beyond measure, attempting to guide its readers through the emotional and spiritual highs and lows one might come across. Lidia Yuknavitch’s life as an outcast, dreaming of escaping the raucous and mentally detrimental home environment where she grew up, fueled a passion for making the world better one word at a time. A passage from Chapter Two of The Misfit’s Manifesto “Coloring (and Sometimes Living) Outside the Lines” reads, “That’s the thing about being a misfit. We can’t fit the stories of who we are supposed to be, nor can we fit the stories that society makes for us to be okay in the world, so we invent our own stories or die trying.” Yuknavitch’s succinct way with words is very admirable.“Here’s another secret: a lot of us are also secretly empathizing with the so-called villain. I’ve been arrested. I’ve gone to jail and rehab. I’m no hero. But every fall I’ve taken has shown me how to be a better person,” Yuknavitch says. Far from being a manual to living as a misfit, the book is more of a lesson in forgiving and moving forward: “News flash! I might fuck up again. As a matter of fact, I’m quite certain I will. But it will not mean I’m nothing.”  Along the way, Yuknavitch writes about her interviews with other writers, artists, friends, and nonconformists, offering a global portrait of what it’s like to live outside traditional social circles. Her friend, Mary J. Thompson, was a student in Yuknavitch’s women’s studies class at Mt. Hood Community College. Thompson expresses her definition of misfit. “Misfits are those of us who in some way grew up without seatbelts, having to come to our own beliefs of the world and our ideas of selfhood.” Thompson’s journey to becoming a misfit started in 1956. She was the tenth child in a family that, according to her, did not need any more children. Her parents had histories of mental illness, and were unable to provide the nurture and care she and her siblings needed. She was mixed, and in the 1950’s, her skin color became her only societal identification. “When I was little I wanted to be like everyone else. Today I just want to be and enjoy my own misfit self—trying to be the best human I can be,” she says. The stories of fellow misfits enhance Yuknavitch’s claim to the word, that it is a word to identify proudly with. Yuknavitch is a powerhouse in her bravery and compassion, and impeccably influential in her path to helping her readers in their mourning. She balances others’ definition of being a misfit into an insightful culmination of the word. All the while, she thoughtfully shares others’ stories and paths to justify her own definition. The Misfit’s Manifesto is sure to benefit readers in their grievances, and educate through experience. This manual to being different touches those of every background, influencing readers’ future paths in the most magnificent way possible.

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