What I love about reading short stories is the variety that you can get. You never know after finishing one story what the next one will hold!
There are eight short stories in this book. Naturally, some were better than others. I Am Born is about a young boy who sneaks into his father's car and unknowingly accompanies him to the home of his teenage patient. The boy develops a new perspective after helping his father give birth to the young lady's baby. Burning Boy tells the story of a six-year-old African American boy in Birmingham in the 1960s who receives a surprising gift of beautiful brown lace-up oxfords from the white man who owns the grocery store where the boy has been working. The Death of Julius Geissler explores a complicated relationship between a world-class violinist, his young new accompanist, and his older envious manager. In my favorite story in the book, The Shape You're In, Sarah travels to Montana to serve as a Visiting Professor at a university. She loves the beautiful cabin where she stays but is haunted by memories of the crazy boyfriend she seems to be running from. Finally, in the title story, The Disobedience of Water, a mother composes an unwritten letter to the man she loved most. In the letter, she recalls her former loves, thinks fondly of her son, and remembers a terrible catastrophe from her childhood.
Each story is unique but Naslund's writing style is ambiguous and hard to follow. It was difficult to completely understand what was happening in these short stories. Each of them seemed to revolve around the characters and their development, yet the disjointed thoughts of those characters, the random insertion of seemingly unrelated memories, and the frequent unexplained change of emotions often left me feeling confused. When I would finish a story I often wondered if I should re-read it, thinking I must have missed something. The stories were often confusing and, as I've discovered by writing this review a week after finishing the book, increasingly forgettable.