A heartfelt coming-out story as well as an eloquent elegy to a rural way of life that is rapidly vanishing from the American landscape.” —Booklist
“In Prairie Silence, Melanie Hoffert shows how the landscapes of our childhood continue to speak to us, and through us, long after we’ve left them behind. In this beautifully written and deeply imagined memoir, Hoffert invites us back to her North Dakota farming community for a season of harvest, a personal journey of profound courage and grace.” —Judy Blunt, author of Breaking Clean
“Hoffert’s bittersweet and compelling memoir recalls her struggles at ending her silence and creating a fuller life for herself. She illuminates the quiet grace of the people and land she loves and mourns the passing of a way of life.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“The quiet, lyric prose of Melanie Hoffert’s Prairie Silence crept into my days, making it impossible for me to stop turning pages. This book is about looking for oneself in places we are so often afraid to venture. A beautiful debut from a brave new writer.” —Claire Bidwell Smith, author of The Rules of Inheritance
“This is a gorgeous book that evokes quiet country mornings and loud self-examination. . . . If you once believed that you can’t truly ever go home again, Prairie Silence is a book you’ll be eager to read.” –Washington Blade
“A heartfelt love song to a place and its people as well as an honest and rewarding rendering of the author’s interior landscape.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Hoffert’s intimate memoir of place reveals a personal journey both fraught and wondrous, and a present reality of surprising richness.” —Patricia Weaver Francisco, author of Telling
Hoffert's graceful story describes both her personal conflict and struggle and their reflections in the prairie communities she calls home. She writes of reconciling her sexuality with her conservative upbringing and accepting herself while mourning the loss of small towns and the farms that sustained and shaped her life.
A rural expatriate examines the pain caused by leaving the place she loved, the struggle involved in aligning her sexuality with faith and hometown values, and the devastation wrought by rural depopulation. Hoffert grew up in a tiny North Dakota farm town. From a young age the author understood she was gay. After attending college, she established a successful professional career and satisfying personal life in Minneapolis. Though the lure of home persisted, when she returned, she remained mute regarding her sexual preference. "There is something that silences the stories of lives," she writes, "…and something that pushes those who cannot stand the silence away from the beauty that was once their childhood home." Hoffert returned home for a month during harvest season, intent on exploring the stark, beautiful landscape, working on the family farm and discovering the root of the ingrained silence surrounding her sexuality. Woven into the author's personal exploration are startling and sad facts on the state of rural life in America, illustrating the "painfully irreversible population decline" that is leading to the extinction of small towns across the country. Hoffert ponders the meaning of this loss and whether she is a member of "the first generation to realize that the world of rural America--both the good and bad of it--will never again be as it once was." The author's mostly quiet narrative includes a wealth of haunting images and ideas that will linger long after the last sentence. A heartfelt love song to a place and its people as well as an honest and rewarding rendering of the author's interior landscape.