Without a Map: A Memoir

Without a Map: A Memoir

by Meredith Hall

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Overview

Meredith Hall's moving but unsentimental memoir begins in 1965, when she becomes pregnant at sixteen. Shunned by her insular New Hampshire community, she is then kicked out of the house by her mother. Her father and stepmother reluctantly take her in, hiding her before they finally banish her altogether. After giving her baby up for adoption, Hall wanders recklessly through the Middle East, where she survives by selling her possessions and finally her blood. She returns to New England and stitches together a life that encircles her silenced and invisible grief. When he is twenty-one, her lost son finds her. Hall learns that he grew up in gritty poverty with an abusive father—in her own father's hometown. Their reunion is tender, turbulent, and ultimately redemptive. Hall's parents never ask for her forgiveness, yet as they age, she offers them her love. What sets Without a Map apart is the way in which loss and betrayal evolve into compassion, and compassion into wisdom.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807072745
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication date: 04/15/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 566,747
Product dimensions: 5.52(w) x 8.51(h) x 0.64(d)

About the Author

Meredith Hall graduated from Bowdoin College at the age of 44. She wrote her first essay, “Killing Chickens,” in 2002. Two years later, she won the $50,000 Gift of Freedom Award from A Room of Her Own Foundation, which gave her the financial freedom to devote time to her memoir Without a Map.

Her other honors include a Pushcart Prize and notable essay recognition in Best American Essays. She was also a finalist for the Rona Jaffe Award. Hall’s work has appeared in the New York Times, Creative Nonfiction, The Southern Review, Five Points, Prairie Schooner, and several anthologies. She teaches writing at the University of New Hampshire and lives in Maine.

Visit Meredith Hall's website at www.meredithhall.org.

Read an Excerpt

without a map

a memoir
By Meredith Hall

Beacon Press

Copyright © 2007 Meredith Hall
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8070-7273-8


Chapter One

The Lonely Hunter

The day is warm, gray and damp. Early July, but the horizon between the sky and ocean bleeds. It is 1965; I am sixteen. Hampton Beach is almost deserted, with the crowds across the boulevard in the shops.

"Hrrr," a young man says, dropping down beside me on the old blanket. It sounds like a growl, or a low dark purr. "What are you reading?" He takes the paperback from me. I don't say anything. "Carson McCullers. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. Mine is," he says, laughing.

He has black curly hair, dark skin, and a crooked nose. He wears shorts and no shirt or shoes. His legs and chest are covered in thick, black curly hair. The boys in my class have smooth skin still, and most don't shave yet. I am scared, feeling myself caught already in something dangerous.

"You don't say much, do you? You look really good, though."

I take the book back and open it again, pretending to find my place and read.

"What are you doing here all by yourself? I think you need some company." He makes that strange growl deep in his throat again, and smiles. "Talk to me." He takes my book and slides it under his belly on the blanket. "There. Now you're either going to have to talk to me or go after your book. I'm happy either way."

He is self-confident. I feel silly and young, unable to talk, to keep up with his flirtation. But I also feel a sudden rising power, a new sense of my body and my skin-a recklessness, as if I am slipping over a wall into something dangerous and intoxicating. I want this boy, this young man, to love me. I have been embarrassed to be alone on the beach. What sixteen-year-old spends the summer at the beach alone-day after day, whether it is sunny or not-reading books and watching the tide move in and out? But suddenly my aloneness is a commodity, a mystery, payback.

"Cat got your tongue?" he asks.

I don't like the cliché. I haven't smiled yet. It makes me feel more grown-up, sophisticated. I am on my side, my head resting on my cocked arm. I like the way my hip rises from my waist. I roll onto my stomach, then feel his hand on the small of my back. It is shocking-skin to skin. I can't speak.

"Hrrr, Skeet, look what I found," he says to another boy walking up to us.

"Nice one!" Skeet says. They laugh.

"What's a nice girl like you doing down here at the beach?" my boy asks.

I try to sound aloof, careless. "I work here."

"She speaks!" he says. "This is good. Where do you work?"

"Nowhere," I say, turning my head away.

He suddenly jumps up. "Let's go," he says to Skeet.

A bubble of panic rises up in me. I want to hold on to this time, on to him and his admiring eyes and confidence and black hair. I feel as if I have missed something important for a long time and here it is, walking away. I feel hungry, desperate for him to stay, to lie back down next to me and pull my book away and touch my skin again.

"In the casino," I say. "It's my day off." I feel the heat rise in my face and neck. I am breaking every rule. "At the candy store and miniature golf."

He purrs again. "The casino. I love miniature golf, don't you, Skeet?"

I watch him walk up to the boardwalk and across the street. He turns just as he crosses the boardwalk and yells, "My name is Anthony! Don't forget!" I spend the afternoon looking up from my book every few minutes, trying to find his black curly head and dark skin in the crowds jostling in and out of the shops and arcade. Seagulls scream and call, floating overhead, pure white crosses against the dark sky. The afternoon wind comes up. Two months from now I will be pregnant. I put my jeans and shirt on over my swimsuit and wait for my mother to pick me up.

Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, is a honky-tonk place in 1965. Maybe it has always been. For years my mother forbade us children from going there except once a summer when my grandmother drove my brother and sister and me down to "the beach" in her '55 Ford. We'd park in the sandy lot behind the casino and spend the evening walking with the crowd, stopping at our favorite stores. My grandmother spoke familiarly to Mrs. Junkins at the candy store. We watched the big old taffy machine pull and twist and braid the shiny candy and left with a big box for my mother, who refused to "do" the beach. My grandmother gave us dimes in the arcade to play skee-ball and have our fortunes told by the creaking and faded and beautiful gypsy doll in the big glass box. We ate hamburgers at Wimpy's, sitting on the heavy green bench on the sidewalk and watching all the other tourists wander by. They were mostly French Canadians, with very short shorts and white socks in their leather sandals. They were a big part of why my mother refused to let us go down to the beach. She told us that we were too good to be around these people, that we shouldn't even want to be there. That there was something cheap and ordinary going on there, and we were not cheap or ordinary. The beach meant day-tripping workers from Massachusetts, from the mill towns of Haverhill-my mother's hometown -and Amesbury and Lowell. It meant old ladies and men dragging their beach chairs down the boardwalk and onto the sand. It meant families eating sandwiches on striped blankets and playing shoulder to shoulder with strangers in the cold rolling waves. And it meant young people, kids, boys and girls with different rules from mine, prowling the beach for beer and kisses and secret dates somewhere on the mile-long sands. The beach was a playground of the old world: 1950s America, a relic of both innocence and hidden transgressions.

But this summer, 1965, is a threshold time. My mother comes to Hampton Beach, too, every day, with Peter. The editor of New Hampshire Profiles magazine and my mother's boss, Peter has asked her to work with him for the summer on a federally funded project. My father left our family just a few years ago, a devastating loss for my mother. Now she is in love with Peter, or at least with Peter's life-the music, the art, the artist friends, the late nights with their underlying beat of love and heat. Before she met Peter, my mother was president of the PTA and chair of the church social events committee. She polished our silver-plated forks and knives and carefully hemmed my skirts below the knee. But she has entered a new life and is intoxicated with it. She starts to write short stories, to read Sartre and Camus and Hesse and Rilke. She lets her hair grow out from her short and practical wave, and the handsome dark wool and gabardine dresses she sewed with such skill are pushed to the back of her closet. She wears slacks and turtlenecks and Mexican sandals. Finishing her duties as mother to her last child at home seems unmanageable, a commitment she resents and resists. Suddenly, I find myself accompanying her each day to the forbidden beach and spending long lonely hours before and after work waiting for her.

Peter and my mother do important work, work that justifies her drive each morning to the mildewed, sandy office of the Hampton Beach Riot Committee. I don't know how Peter's editorship of a small New Hampshire magazine, how his jazz and writing qualify him to head the riot study commission. I don't know what my mother, with her cool judgments of others' misbehavior, wants to bring to a study of youth gone wild. But for the summer of 1965, Peter and my mother work in the glass-wrapped office of the Hampton Beach Chamber of Commerce, right on the boardwalk along the white sand beach, building a report on the causes of the riots the summer before.

On Labor Day eve 1964, the huge crowd of kids gathered at the beach for the holiday coalesced into a rioting mob. The police and firefighters responded with force, driving the rioters across the beach and into the water. Each time, the crowd swept back into the streets, attacking the cops with rocks and Molotov cocktails. Finally, in the middle of the night, the governor called out the National Guard and declared martial law. The guard closed down all the roads into the beach and set up machine gun stations along the main road. It took them until dawn on Labor Day to contain the riot, with dozens of police and kids left wounded.

The Hampton Beach riots stunned the nation, which still clung to the passive, determined calm of the 1950s. The rioters were average kids from area towns, not troublemakers with a history. A year later, no one has figured out what they were all so angry about. Peter and my mother are charged with interviewing hundreds of rioters, finding answers and coming up with recommendations so this cannot happen again. They do a good job. The police receive extensive sensitivity training. Bongo drums and radios playing rock 'n' roll are finally allowed on the beach with no police action. Bikinis no longer earn a citation for indecency. My mother feels sympathy for these kids. At a moment of great transformation in her own life, she understands the surge of change that is gathering force in this seedy little summer town and is soon to engulf the country.

I feel the swelling energy, the inexplicable, restless hunger, rising in my own innocent life. I don't care at all about the music or the drinking or the gathering together of teenagers for fun and the thrill of belonging. But my father is gone. He has a new life, a new wife and daughter, and never calls or visits. I miss him badly. My mother is inaccessible. My older brother and sister have moved on to their own lives, leaving me very alone at home and on the beach while my mother works and plays with Peter. I feel lost, caught between my old life at home-a safe, small, family life-and the new life on which my mother has opened the door. A growing sense of dread, of confusion, of abandonment and desperation is starting to erase my childhood. I am hungry to be loved, and understand the rioters' anger, the eruptive release, the need to defy. I understand the pulsing impatience. I feel a powerful dark longing that throws me back into myself. Most of this I cannot name or explain. But as the summer slides along, I know one thing very clearly: I am drifting in over my head and want my mother to grab me out of the tide.

My mother was a guardian of the old rules until she met Peter and stepped into his world. Now, I teeter on a frightened edge between our two lives, understanding that I am to follow the old system, that I must be contained. I grew up with certain indisputable expectations for my behavior: I would dress modestly. I would never call a boy. I would never be alone with a boy. I would not lie or sneak. I would not talk back. But this summer, as my mother moves farther and farther into her new life, I spend more and more time alone. After her work on the committee ends late in the day and my work at the casino is over, my mother drives me home and then heads to Peter's house, up the coast five miles to eat, drink, make music and conversation with friends. She is happy and alive. Our house is very quiet.

The biggest change is that she suddenly allows me to date. My mother stops asking where I am going and with whom. She tells me to be home at ten, but she is not there to hear me come in. Suddenly, I am on my own to make up the new rules. Once, I told her how much I liked a boy putting his hand on my leg at the movie. She disapproved: "Meredy, never let a boy do that."

"Why?"

She was disgusted. "Because one thing leads to another." But she wouldn't tell me how to reconcile her expectations for my proper behavior with the new universe we both found ourselves in.

I spend the first weeks of the summer holding myself to the old rules. Then one day, I shop in the cheap little stores along the beach while I wait for her to get out of work. I find a bikini-white dotted swiss with big black polka dots and ruffles over the seat. I try it on in the cramped dressing room. I love what I see. I am thin, brown, mature. It confuses me, the good girl.

The next day, I strut all morning up and down the beach outside my mother's wall of windows at the chamber. Up and down, up and down. Only a few girls wear bikinis still, and I am the center of attention. Men whistle. Boys fall into step beside me and ask for my name, my phone number. I love their interest. I want them to love me, to hold me, to fill the vast empty space in my life that is starting to scare me so much.

I can see my mother bent over her desk on the second floor, answering the phone, walking out of sight and returning. Several times I wave but get no response. By the end of the day, I decide that this is going to be my new skin. I leap into a new life that afternoon, blind and alone, reckless. When I climb into my mother's car at the curb at five thirty, I don't cover up with a shirt. I wait, wanting her to draw me, to draw us, back to the safety of our other life, the life in which a father and mother hold ground. She looks sideways at me but doesn't say a word.

When I am back in the shelter of my small, sunny room at home, I fold my old one-piece swimsuit into the back of a drawer for good. I hear my mother's car pull back out. I close my door and stand in front of the mirror, studying my body. A trained dancer, I am strong and thin. The polka-dotted ruffles on my bottom look innocent, playful. I stroke the soft roundness of my breasts, the dark hollow between them, and the smooth curve at the small of my back. I have areas of baby-fine white skin on my chest and belly and back that need exposure, need to brown up in the open air. Except for that, I am ready. When Anthony puts his hand on my back that cloudy July afternoon, I am ready.

* * *

It is Labor Day 1965. There are no stars tonight. No moon. The beach is divided in two: the upper part by the boardwalk is a sad greenish-pink from the mercury lights overhead; the lower part is dark, with a silvery light from the wave crests rising and then seeping over the sand, rising and seeping. That's where Anthony takes me, over the line of light into the dark. The beach monument-a seated woman looking out to sea for her lost love-marks the spot where Skeet waits in Anthony's car. It has been exactly a year since the riots erupted and two months since we met. Everything at the beach is quiet, but inside I can feel rising something dangerous, a chaotic push and pull.

As we walk along the water's edge, Anthony laughs and teases me, as he does each time we are together, about how protected I have been, how naïve, how girlish I am. "Are you sure you're not afraid of the dark?" he asks. "Your mother must have told you never to let a guy like me take you to the beach on a night like this." Later, he says, "Don't worry. I'm here to protect you from the sharks." He doesn't hold my hand or put his arm around me. In fact, we have barely kissed all summer.

I have seen Anthony six or seven times since I met him. I have never been alone with him; he and Skeet are a team. They made their way to the second floor of the casino on a hot evening a few days after that first inflaming afternoon and found me at the miniature golf desk handing out clubs and balls to a steady flow of people. I was bored. When I noticed Anthony standing in line, I felt no surprise. I knew he would come.

The upstairs of the old casino is dark and musty and cold even on a hot, sunny day. The floorboards creak as people move around the cavernous room. Anthony and Skeet played three rounds of golf. Anthony has an athletic body and a confident, easy walk. He joked with me about the silliness of my job and the fact that I was all bundled up against the cold wind that blasted up the wide concrete steps of the casino. "Why aren't you in that cute little thing you had on the other clay?" he asked. "The thing with the ruffles." I was busy and didn't have to do anything more than smile back. By the time he and Skeet left, Anthony knew my name and how to call me.

Carl, a friend who worked with me every day, asked, "Who was that?"

"Just a guy I met," I said. I felt guilty.

"He's got to be twenty years old, Meredy. Why are you talking to a guy like that?"

"He's nice," I said. "Don't worry. We're not going out or anything."

"Does your mother know about him?"

"Yeah," I said. "She just said no cars." He knew I was lying. I had never mentioned Anthony to my mother, and she had stopped worrying about cars.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from without a map by Meredith Hall Copyright © 2007 by Meredith Hall. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Prologue: Shunned....................ix
Chapter One: The Lonely Hunter....................1
Chapter Two: Waiting....................15
Chapter Three: Stronghold....................33
Chapter Four: The Uprising....................47
Chapter Five: Again....................65
Chapter Six: Drawing the Line....................77
Chapter Seven: Without a Map....................97
Chapter Eight: A River of Light....................117
Chapter Nine: Double Vision....................121
Chapter Ten: Killing Chickens....................141
Chapter Eleven: Threshold....................147
Chapter Twelve: Propitiation....................151
Chapter Thirteen: Chimeras....................163
Chapter Fourteen: Reckonings....................183
Chapter Fifteen: The River of Forgetting....................195
Chapter Sixteen: Sojourn....................203
Chapter Seventeen: Outport Shadows....................209

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Without a Map: A Memoir 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
curlysuzieq More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have EVER read! Unbelievable story of survival and emotional turmoil around. I read this book in a very short amount of time because I just could not put it down! This book is not only absorbing but inspirational!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had heard of this book (Without a Map) in the April issue of 'O' magazine. I purchased it six months later, and as I read it, I had to put it down a couple of times because of the emotional impact it had on me. Anyone who dares to be honest enough about the effects of familial abandonment should read this book. This book took me on an amazing journey that ended with a different resolution than I had imagined. I recommend Meredith Hall's 'Without a Map' to anyone who is brave enough to take the journey through heartbreak, loneliness, and most of all reconciliation with one's family and one's past.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have just finished reading Without a Map and I am truly moved. I feel a connection to Meredith Hall and to her story. Being a parent at the age of 18 - though in a different time - I can totally relate. This is a warm story highlighting the unending challenges of finding yourself once scarred by your past. I am touched by her story and look forward to the next installment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is so emotional. You can feel this Meredith's pain, but she does not want you to feel sorry for her. She tells her story in a way that you feel part of it. Very worth while!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I saw this book in a recent Oprah magazine and decided to pick it up. Since I live near where the book takes place, I found it very interesting. I read the book on a recent family road trip and had a difficult time putting it down. Nearing the end of the book, I actually cried when her elderly houseguest passed, it touched my heart. This was a great memoir and I would recommend it to anyone. I only wish she would write another book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Meredith Hall has written unflinchingly about sensitive subjects and a life scarred by rigid expectations. Her parents and many others let her down, but she never lets the reader down in this searing memoir. Ultimately, she draws her own map.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is surprising, soulful, sad and incredibly joyful. I read it in one sitting. Anyone with parents or with children should read this memoir, which peels away the onion layers of complex family life. How do you coexist with simultaneously loving and hating your family? How do you create closure for yourself?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This memoir draws the reader in and holds your interest. I needed to find out what happened next in this extraordinary life. The writing is elegant.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an account that no one should have to write. It's 1965 and good girls don't get pregnant. Meredith writes a sad...revealing...heartfelt account of her pregnancy at age 16 and how she was criticized, rejected and treated miserably by friends and family. How does she survive it? How does she regain control of her life? Does she ever meet her child? The book is based upon Ms. Hall's struggles to understand why her life changed so quickly and drastically as well as how she struggles to repair it. Her descriptions are vivid and the issues she raises are very thought provoking...great read...compelling.
TimBazzett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow! And that's a very soft wow, filled with wonderment at this book so bursting with truth and filled with pain, anger and forgiveness. On the surface, this could simply be viewed as a book about a woman who got pregnant at sixteen, gave up her baby, and had a very difficult time of things for the next twenty-five years or more. But, if you dig just a ltlle deeper, this is simply a story of what it means to be fully human, to live a life warts and all and finally try to understand what it all means. Meredith Hall does all this in her wonderful memoir,Without a Map. She presents herself as child, as daughter, as a mother. This is a truly "examined life," and anyone who reads it will relate and will feel richer for having read Hall's story. Here is a tiny sample of what glitters in this story, something that, when I read it, I recognized, as will anyone who has ever lost a parent without having the chance to verify something - that love went both ways. She speaks of a meeting with her father."He is eighty-four years old. I have a startling need to unburden my father of whatever guilt or regret he may carry, to say good-bye to him, to tell him I love him. I am afraid that he will die and I will be left with the unending conversation that has hung in the lost time between us all these years. There are many, many things I wish I could say to him ..."Hall got to have that conversation, the one I never did have with my father. When I read these lines - and others - I wept. For this is a book about family ties - the ones that held and the ones that didn't. It will make you weep. This is a beautiful book, by a woman who has learned things about life the hard way. If Meredith Hall never writes another book, she will be remembered. This one is enough.
sara_k on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Without a Map: a memoir by Meredith Hall. Meredith's father has left for another woman and her mother is determined that no blame should fall on her or her children. Everything seems "ok" until Meredith's mother falls in love and takes a Summer job leaving Meredith unsupervised for long hours at the beach. Fascinated and scared by a brash young man, Meredith responds to his flirting. Soon she is pregnant at 16 and her life as a good girl and student are gone. She tries to hide her pregnancy but on the day it is discovered she is evicted from school, her mother arranges to throw her out, and all her friends desert her. She is sent to live with her father and his wife but they are not much better; they try to keep her hidden in their house and leave her alone for weeks at a time. Under terrible pressure Meredith gives the baby up for adoption and finds she still is not allowed her old life back. She goes from feeling loved (if somewhat mneglected) to unloved and unloveable. Her struggle to emerge and see herself as a worthy person is heartwrenching.
bobbieharv on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
She portrays herself as a normal girl growing up in NH until her mother takes up with a group of hippies and she, the daughter alone all day while her mother works, gets pregnant. Then the mother throws her out; she lives with her father and his new wife until the baby is born and given up for adoption. She's a bit of a victim, and the story skips around and doesn't fill in all the missing pieces, like her own failed marriage, but it's quite compelling and well-written.
dfullmer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful memoir, short and spare, her prose left me wanting more. I really related to her story.
OneMorePage on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
1965. 16-year-old Meredy Hall finds herself pregnant after one sexual encounter. The young man is gone, back to his life in Boston. When her pregnancy shows, she is kicked out of school. That night, her mother kicks her out of the house, sending her to live with her father and his new wife. She is left alone for days at a time. She is told not to leave the house. When her father's friends visit, she must hide in her room. She is told by her doctor that she must not keep this baby, that she must give it up. The baby is born and is taken from her immediately.Meredy cannot go back to her old life. Her mother sends her to a private school, where she enjoys learning, but feels older than her peers. She grieves silently and alone. She grieves the loss of her child and the loss of her mother's love. Meredy will spend the next 20 years grieving, going into a deep depression, dropping out of society, drifting, literally, around the world before finding peace.This is a moving story of an average small-town girl and her life-long punishment for making a simple error in judgement. It is also the story of her recovery from her error, her rejection by everyone who should have cared for her in a time of great need, her recovery from a life lived in a deep depression, and how, over 35 years' later, she is finally at peace.
kageeh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Meredith Hall's intriguing memoir "Without a Map" is a singularly poignant and interesting book from a literary point of view and both heart-wrenching and affirming from an emotional point. At first, the non-linear aspect of her story touched on the annoying but then it all came together; in many ways, the absence of chronology added to its uniqueness among memoirs. It was as if in the telling, she suddenly remembered something that made her go back and then move forward again. As a story of society's reaction to young girls "who got in trouble", it brought back the horrible lack of compassion and empathy so rampant in the fifties and early sixties, when I was also growing up. Boys were understood to have no sexual control and girls were held solely responsible for keeping themselves "pure". Combining this with the lack of full sexual education, a phenomenon that has come back to reality under Bush's "Abstinence only" sex ed, could lead only to what it did in Meredith's life. Pregnant girls were shunned as tramps and sent away to have their babies in hiding and to give them up without ever seeing them. The professionals believed these young girls would easily forget their pasts and go on with their lives. No one except the young girls themselves ever imagined that they would remember their babies in stark detail every single day of their lives. Adoption itself was usually held in privacy between the obstetrician and whomever he deemed worthy of having a baby, often to disastrous consequences, as in this instance.We don't often hear from these young women again except in what are portrayed as happily-ever-after reunion shows on TV so Meredith's memoir fills an extreme gap in our knowledge. She courageously shows us that the horror of being turned away by the very people invested with the responsibility for loving us unconditionally never goes away, that it permanently and pervasively marks every aspect of one's life forever. In the face of all that, however, the one thing that so stands out about Meredith is her unending capacity for understanding and forgiveness of the very people who least deserve it, her parents and siblings. From her early attempts to completely dissociate herself from her very essence before pregnancy through roaming the Middle East by herself to her years as a middle-aged mother of three grown sons and college writing teacher, who comes to love and embrace living by herself no longer mourning what was so brutally taken from her, Meredith's memoir is beautifully written, beseeching compassion, and determined to stay with the reader for a long long time. In response to one reviewer who gave this book only one star and claimed Meredith was selfish and whiny and let her father off with no pain, I'm not sure you read this book in its entirety. There was not one instance "poor me". She bravely lived a life none of us should ever have to. She did not let her father off at all. She gave him two choices - to tell her he loved her all along and ask for forgiveness for his mistakes or to do what he ultimately did, to believe Meredith understands what he did and why and beg her to love him anyway. She realized that his cruelty to her and inability to apologize was all about him and would remain that way. He never looks good and never will. And Meredith finds she and her children don't need him after all. If I have one complaint, it is a small one. Meredith tells us nothing about the father of her later children, the father she divorced after ten years of marriage. Although missing in his entirety, he is not really missed. I am merely curious about the one man who enabled Meredith to find love and the strength to have more children. I strongly recommend reading Meredith's story and suggest that you will not easily find another as original and inspiring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I took a class from Prof Hall at University of New Hampshire. I enjoyed the class so much that I decided to pick up her book at the library. It was a fantastic read and I feel very grateful to have been taught by such a raw and captivating writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book because like the author I am a birth mom. I found the book way too confusing as it bounced back and forth from child to adult to teen to child to adult etc. I even found a few chapters disturbing. I understand the pain behind her actions but some were just WAY too out there and bizarre. I would not recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As I was reading this book, I would glance to see how many pages I had left as I didn't want it to end! The writing style made me feel and walk with the author through her life and made me examine myself and relationships in my life. I love this book.
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