Without a map : a memoir

Meredith Hall.

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. "Meredith Hall boldly charts one of the bravest of stories, the journey from disrupted youth up through that most tricky and forbidding territory, the family circle. Bone-honest and strong in its every line, this work of memory is a remarkably deep retrieval of its times and souls, thereby reflecting our own." -Ivan Doig, author of Heart Earth "This is an unusually elegant memoir that feels as though its been carved straight out of Meredith Hall's capacious heart. The story is riveting, the words perfect. It is rare to read a work that manages to be at once artful and compelling, which for me best describes Meredith Hall's debut work. She is an author who deserves to be widely read. Few people write like this. Fewer still have the courage to live like this ndash; without the comfort of any cliché." -Lauren Slater, author of Opening Skinner's Box, Prozac Diary, and Welcome to My Country "Meredith Hall's long journey from an inexcusably betrayed girlhood to the bittersweet mercies of womanhood is a triple triumph-of survival; of narration; and of forgiveness. Her portrait of her own empty bravado collapsing into total psychological and geographical dislocation is one of the most harrowing passages I've ever read. The subsequent turn toward memory and honesty is agonized, profound, and salvific. Without a Map is a masterpiece." -David James Duncan, author of The Brothers K and God Laughs and Plays "Meredith Hall is like a geiger counter ticking along the radium edge of these recent decades. She gives us self as expert-witness-Without a Map is smart, sharp, and redemptively honest. " -Sven Birkerts, author of The Gutenberg Elegies and My Sky Blue Trades "Meredith Hall's story of loss, shame, and betrayal is also a story of joy, reconnection, and survival; each memory takes us deep to the marrow of sorrow and celebration. A work of extraordinary beauty and grace." -Kim Barnes, author of In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country "Without A Map tells an important and perceptive story about loss, about aloneness and isolation in a time of great need, about a life slowly coming back into focus and the calm that finally emerges. Meredith Hall is a brave new writer who earns our attention." -Annie Dillard, author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek "Meredith Hall's magnificent book held me in its thrall from the moment I began reading the opening pages. WITHOUT A MAP is a fluid, beautifully-written, hard-won piece of work that belongs on the shelf next to the best modern memoirs, and yet is in a category all its own. It is a moving example of a difficult life redeemed first through examination, then reflection, then finally-like a rough stone polished until it gleams-into a genuine work of art." -Dani Shapiro, aut


RECOMMENDATIONS

LISTS

Biographies That InspirePosted December 14, 2011

Add a Comment