Without a Map by Meredith Hall

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Without a Map
256 pages; Beacon Press
Nostalgic for the good old days of Norman Rockwell America? Without a Map (Beacon) 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 was expelled from high school, shunned by her friends and neighbors, cut loose by her parents, and forced to put up her baby for adoption. Unsurprisingly, the psychological damage she sustained was serious and persistent. After a reckless backpacking tour of Europe and the Middle East, Hall returned to her native state, married, had two sons, divorced, and was finally found by Paul, the son she'd been compelled to give away. Raised in New Hampshire, Paul had suffered through a childhood even more problematic than his (biological) mother's adolescence. As she documents her attempts to make sense of her parents' behavior and the cruelty of her son's adoptive father, 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