Friday, February 01, 2008

Pg. 69: Meredith Hall's "Without a Map"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Meredith Hall's Without a Map.

About the book, from the publisher:
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.
Among the praise for Without a Map:
“As told in this poignant, unflinchingly assured memoir, the arc of Hall's life after giving up her newborn son for adoption in 1966 was anything but traditional…Hall tells of that trek with journalistic dispassion, stripping it of self-indulgence and thus enhancing its honesty…. As she writes, there is not a whisper of self-pity or self-aggrandizement, so often the banes of memoir…. Hall does find a semblance of peace in her life, one rooted in nature, a theme that resonates throughout this exquisite memoir.”
Robert Braile, Boston Globe

“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

"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 For the Time Being

“An unusually powerful coming-of-age memoir… Searching, humble and quietly triumphant: Hall has managed to avoid all the easy clichés.”
Kirkus, starred review

“Nostalgic for the good old days of Norman Rockwell America? Without a Map may forever change the way you look at small-town life. Meredith Hall’s memoir is a sobering portrayal of how punitive her close-knit New Hampshire community was in 1965 when, at the age of 16, she became pregnant in the course of a casual summer romance…Hall offers a testament to the importance of understanding and even forgiving the people who, however unconscious or unkind, have made us who we are.”
—Francine Prose, O Magazine
Read an excerpt from Without a Map, and learn more about the book and author at Meredith Hall's website.

Meredith Hall has won the $50,000 Gift of Freedom Award from A Room of Her Own Foundation, a Pushcart Prize, and notable essay recognition in Best American Essays. Her 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.

The Page 69 Test: Meredith Hall's Without a Map.

--Marshal Zeringue