…Stanton's mesmerizing memoir…is an informative, intelligent read for anyone, young or old, trying to make sense of teenage rebellion…Body Leaping Backward is a well-told, insightful memoir that could hardly be more relevant today.
This jumbled memoir follows Stanton throughout her troubled girlhood in the prison town of Walpole, Mass., as she navigates her parent’s divorce and her own drug addiction. After her family moved to Walpole in the mid-1960s, Stanton’s mother would drive her and her six siblings by Walpole prison and warn them, “If you misbehave, you’ll end up in there.” The threat loomed in the background of her seemingly idyllic childhood, until her parents’ divorce set grade-schooler Stanton adrift. Stanton’s ideas of good and bad blurred—if the bad people were inside Walpole prison, why was it okay for her mother to shoplift from the local grocery? Soon, Stanton began shoplifting. During her sophomore year of high school, Stanton tried smoking angel dust, which ramped up to “Dust in the morning, dust at night, dust at school.” She would drive around high with friends or hitchhike (“I wonder how I was not raped or killed or both, why was I not brain-damaged, ruined, sent away, locked up”). Eventually, she got counseling and quit angel dust, but she then began snorting cocaine; her path of recovery is not linear. Her writing is clear and thoughtful, yet while Stanton has created a solid portrait of a 1970s prison town, her reminiscences never quite coalesce into a satisfying narrative. (July)
“A blazingly important memoir about the possibility of change.” —People Magazine, Best New Books “Forget the cult of the bad boy, Maureen Stanton's Body Leaping Backward makes my skin shiver and my heart pound out a hell yes. Set in the 70s and the coming wave of drugs, a family falls to pieces. The mother descends into delinquency and soon Maureen follows—but this story reminds us how mothers and daughters clawing their way back to life is an epic journey of courage and guts and heart. A triumph.” —Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Misfit’s Manifesto and The Chronology of Water “Body Leaping Backward, bursting with radiant storytelling, seamlessly sets Maureen Stanton's childhood struggles against the unraveling social tapestry that was America in the 1970s. This is a page-turning narrative that illuminates so much about her personal and our cultural darkest moments.” —Michael Patrick MacDonald, author of All Souls: A Family Story from Southie "The miracle isn't how Maureen Stanton survived her harrowing adolescence, but how she can write about it with such beauty and clarity. I read this in one heart-in-my-throat sitting." —Monica Wood, author of When We Were the Kennedys and The One-in-a- Million Boy “Written with sensual, poetic, and evocative prose, this remarkable memoir is an honest exploration of what it means to come of age in the quiet wreckage of a broken home, when social norms were shifting and it was so very easy to fall perilously between the cracks. A deeply moving, timely, and important memoir.” —Andre Dubus III, author of Townie and Gone So Long “I read Maureen Stanton’s memoir with respect and appreciation. I am proud and heartbroken at the story she tells—proud that she reached a point where she could write it all down, and heartbroken at how much courage and resilience is necessary to survive.” —Dorothy Allison, author of Two or Three Things I Know for Sure and Bastard out of Carolina “A masterful storyteller, Maureen Stanton has written a timeless and timely memoir of an all-American girlhood derailed by drugs and loss, which is both heartbreaking and hilarious. Body Leaping Backward is a luminous portrait of a family and a country at a crucial moment of change. Important and riveting, this is a wonder of a book.” —E.J. Levy, author of Love, in Theory and The Cape Doctor “An unsparing look at a girlhood that veers off the rails into young adulthood. Sharp, candid, and deeply felt, her story shows the way our upbringings live on in our blood.” —The Boston Globe “Powerful and probing, Stanton's book offers a sharp portrait of a wayward girl "leaping backward" into disaster. Along the way, she reveals the way individuals are as much a product of time and place as they are of the families to which they belong. A compellingly honest coming-of-age memoir.” —Kirkus Reviews “Engaging . . . this is a great choice for memoir readers and anyone interested in the ’70s.” —Booklist "Memorable and beautiful." —Shelf Awareness "An informative, intelligent read for anyone, young or old, trying to make sense of teenage rebel —
A prizewinning nonfiction writer's account of a troubled adolescence spent immersed in alcohol, drugs, and crime.
Massachusetts native Stanton (English/Univ. of Massachusetts, Lowell; Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: Seeking History and Hidden Gems in Flea-Market America, 2011, etc.) grew up in the shadow of the Walpole State Prison between the "hopeful early days of the 1960s" and the more turbulent ones of the decade that followed. Her own early life was filled with such happy, middle-class childhood staples as tennis lessons, babysitting, and slumber parties. But as she reached adolescence, the quality of her life eroded. Her parents separated and suddenly became part of the emergent "divorce boom." Caught in an economic slump that characterized the early and middle part of the decade, her newly impoverished head-of-household mother shoplifted for clothes while a rebellious Stanton started on a path of substance abuse. She writes that just as "Nixon declared ‘an all-out, global war on the drug menace' and formed a superagency, the DEA," she had become an eighth grader who "smoked dope regularly and drank nearly every weekend." By high school, Stanton had graduated to getting "dusted" on PCP, the large-animal tranquilizer that became the go-to drug for Walpole youths unable to obtain marijuana. Wanting to leave her outwardly good-student, cheerleader image behind, the author also engaged in petty theft and eventually became involved with a boy who was on probation for breaking and entering. For all her dangerous experiments, which included driving under the influence or being driven by "people so fucked up they could barely stay in the lane," the author survived through a combination of luck and her own efforts to seek help. Powerful and probing, Stanton's book offers a sharp portrait of a wayward girl "leaping backward" into disaster. Along the way, she reveals the way individuals are as much a product of time and place as they are of the families to which they belong.
A compellingly honest coming-of-age memoir.