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Without a Map: A Memoir

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Without a Map: A Memoir Cover

ISBN13: 9780807072738
ISBN10: 0807072737
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"It was 1965 when Hall was expelled from her New Hampshire high school, shunned by all her friends, made to leave her mother's home, and kept hidden from sight in her father's house — all because she was a sexually nave 16-year-old, pregnant by a college boy who wasn't all that interested in her anyway. And in this memoir, chapters of which have been published in magazines, Hall narrates this bittersweet tale of loss. After childbirth her baby was put up for adoption so fast, she never had even a glimpse of him. She finished high school at a nearby boarding school, then soon wandered to Europe and eventually found herself just walking, alone, from country to country. Somewhere in the Middle East she scraped bottom and repatriated herself. She accumulated another lover and had two children, before her first son, the one she was forced to abandon, made contact. Making peace with him was deeply healing. This painful memoir builds to a quiet resolution, as Hall comes to grips with her own aging, the complexities of forgiveness and the continuity of life." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"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

Review:

"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 likethis. Fewer still have the courage to live like this — without the comfort of any cliche." Lauren Slater, author of Opening Skinner's Box, Prozac Diary, and Welcome to My Country

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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, author of Family History

Review:

"Though Hall's memoir...occasionally loses ground to the very grief she is trying to overcome, the message of redemptive compassion makes this a worthwhile and moving read." Library Journal

Review:

"Searching, humble and quietly triumphant: Hall has managed to avoid all the easy cliches." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Written in spare, unsentimental prose, Without a Map is stunning; Meredy's reunion with her grown son...is the highlight. Book groups, take note." Booklist

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

Synopsis:

US

Synopsis:

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 - without the comfort of any cliche. --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

Think for a moment of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, of banishment, reconciliation, redemption, and you'll get the scope of Without a Map, the new memoir by Meredith Hall . . . An extraordinary tale, made all the more moving by Hall's unsentimental prose and ample heart. --gettrio.com

a compelling, painful, hopeful story. --more.com

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 reeflection, then finally--like a rough stone polished until it gleams--into a genuine work of art. --Dani Shapiro, author of Family History

Hall, a brave and graceful writer who teaches at UNH, examines her life with wide open eyes and an equally open heart. Even as she wrestles with the grief of many losses--her child, her parents' love and respect, her standing in her community, her identity--she demonstrates the writer's gift of separating from her own experiences, establishing an objectivity that allows her to make meaning for herself and readers. --Rebecca Rule, Nashua Telegraph

Open adoptions and connections between birth mothers and their children were not the way of life for a young girl who got pregnant in the '60s. Meredith Hall, in her beautifully written, poignant memoir, tells us what life was like for a naive girl who found herself pregnant and abandoned by her mother and father. This is a tale of loss, of endless traveling in search of an intangible something, and, uuuuultimately, of forgiveness. --Gayle Shanks, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ

Hall's sensitive, honest account of her personal odyssey shows one remarkable woman transcending this trauma to become a better, stronger person. --Wendy Smith, AARP The Magazine

Hall's life, as depicted in this memoir, was nothing if not two things--difficult and fascinating. With no family, friends or other support system, she took her life into her own hands at an early, tender age, and she fell quite far before finally rising up. The reader gets the benefit of her trials, a gritty view of the world from America to Europe to the Middle East. --INtake Weekly

Without a Map tells a stunning story of exile and ostracization. Meredith grew up on the seacoast of New Hampshire and became pregnant at age 16, in 1965. Her memoir is a rare and clear glimpse into the social mores of the mid 60's, and reveals the state of shame many families faced when an unmarried daughter became

About the Author

At the age of forty-four, Meredith Hall graduated from Bowdoin College. 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 Without a Map, her first book. 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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

wrs, April 13, 2007 (view all comments by wrs)
I read Without a Map and I enjoyed it, as well as being moved by it. If I had to describe the emotional “residue” from the book I think I would use words like: sadness, that lives could be so scarred, and forgiveness so difficult and drawn out; amazement, at what lengths Ms. Hall went to escape, and the trials endured; and thankfulness that I never had to face those issues.
Descriptions were evocative, especially of the quiet and lonely places.
The two scenes that moved me the most were her mother dying, and killing the chickens.
A comment I would make is that a couple times I was lost for a few paragraphs before I realized the story was flashing back. In general though, they were very effective, especially when tying real events into her own private timeline.
This book is well worth reading for its humanity and emotional impact.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(9 of 16 readers found this comment helpful)
mfd, April 4, 2007 (view all comments by mfd)
Meredith Hall faced life without a map. However, she's drawing a map for her sons! She's giving to her sons what her parents could not give her: encompassing, unconditional love and compassion. This powerful memoir leads us from abandonment and shame, through years of emptiness and struggle for comprehension, to examination, reflection and love. Her story is brave and honest; her writing is strong, evocative and elegant. Her path to understanding and acceptance of her parents and herself provides her sons a map for life. A beautiful gift!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(14 of 19 readers found this comment helpful)
waynedeer, March 26, 2007 (view all comments by waynedeer)
This is an account that no one should have to write. It's l965 - 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?
This book is based upon Ms. Hall's struggles to understand why her life changed so quickly and drastically and her struggle to repair it. The descriptions are vivid and the issues raised thought provoking... great read...compelling.
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(10 of 15 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 3 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780807072738
Subtitle:
A Memoir
Author:
Hall, Meredith
Publisher:
Beacon Press
Location:
Boston
Subject:
Social life and customs
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Authors, American
Subject:
Authors, American - 21st century
Subject:
Hall, Meredith - Childhood and youth
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Biography-Women
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
April 2007
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
248
Dimensions:
8.54x6.52x.95 in. .95 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » Women
Featured Titles » Biography
Health and Self-Help » Child Care and Parenting » Adoption and Foster Care
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Biographies
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Memoirs

Without a Map: A Memoir Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.95 In Stock
Product details 248 pages Beacon Press - English 9780807072738 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "It was 1965 when Hall was expelled from her New Hampshire high school, shunned by all her friends, made to leave her mother's home, and kept hidden from sight in her father's house — all because she was a sexually nave 16-year-old, pregnant by a college boy who wasn't all that interested in her anyway. And in this memoir, chapters of which have been published in magazines, Hall narrates this bittersweet tale of loss. After childbirth her baby was put up for adoption so fast, she never had even a glimpse of him. She finished high school at a nearby boarding school, then soon wandered to Europe and eventually found herself just walking, alone, from country to country. Somewhere in the Middle East she scraped bottom and repatriated herself. She accumulated another lover and had two children, before her first son, the one she was forced to abandon, made contact. Making peace with him was deeply healing. This painful memoir builds to a quiet resolution, as Hall comes to grips with her own aging, the complexities of forgiveness and the continuity of life." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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 likethis. Fewer still have the courage to live like this — without the comfort of any cliche."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "Though Hall's memoir...occasionally loses ground to the very grief she is trying to overcome, the message of redemptive compassion makes this a worthwhile and moving read."
"Review" by , "Searching, humble and quietly triumphant: Hall has managed to avoid all the easy cliches."
"Review" by , "Written in spare, unsentimental prose, Without a Map is stunning; Meredy's reunion with her grown son...is the highlight. Book groups, take note."
"Review" by , "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."
"Synopsis" by , US
"Synopsis" by , 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 - without the comfort of any cliche. --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

Think for a moment of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, of banishment, reconciliation, redemption, and you'll get the scope of Without a Map, the new memoir by Meredith Hall . . . An extraordinary tale, made all the more moving by Hall's unsentimental prose and ample heart. --gettrio.com

a compelling, painful, hopeful story. --more.com

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 reeflection, then finally--like a rough stone polished until it gleams--into a genuine work of art. --Dani Shapiro, author of Family History

Hall, a brave and graceful writer who teaches at UNH, examines her life with wide open eyes and an equally open heart. Even as she wrestles with the grief of many losses--her child, her parents' love and respect, her standing in her community, her identity--she demonstrates the writer's gift of separating from her own experiences, establishing an objectivity that allows her to make meaning for herself and readers. --Rebecca Rule, Nashua Telegraph

Open adoptions and connections between birth mothers and their children were not the way of life for a young girl who got pregnant in the '60s. Meredith Hall, in her beautifully written, poignant memoir, tells us what life was like for a naive girl who found herself pregnant and abandoned by her mother and father. This is a tale of loss, of endless traveling in search of an intangible something, and, uuuuultimately, of forgiveness. --Gayle Shanks, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ

Hall's sensitive, honest account of her personal odyssey shows one remarkable woman transcending this trauma to become a better, stronger person. --Wendy Smith, AARP The Magazine

Hall's life, as depicted in this memoir, was nothing if not two things--difficult and fascinating. With no family, friends or other support system, she took her life into her own hands at an early, tender age, and she fell quite far before finally rising up. The reader gets the benefit of her trials, a gritty view of the world from America to Europe to the Middle East. --INtake Weekly

Without a Map tells a stunning story of exile and ostracization. Meredith grew up on the seacoast of New Hampshire and became pregnant at age 16, in 1965. Her memoir is a rare and clear glimpse into the social mores of the mid 60's, and reveals the state of shame many families faced when an unmarried daughter became

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