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eBook Without a Map: A Memoir ePub

eBook Without a Map: A Memoir ePub

by Meredith Hall

  • ISBN: 0807072737
  • Category: Specific Groups
  • Subcategory: Biography
  • Author: Meredith Hall
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; First Edition edition (April 1, 2007)
  • Pages: 248
  • ePub book: 1895 kb
  • Fb2 book: 1863 kb
  • Other: mbr txt docx doc
  • Rating: 4.6
  • Votes: 571


Hall's memoir, Without a Map, is a devastating story of what happens when a person is exiled from her own life .

Hall's memoir, Without a Map, is a devastating story of what happens when a person is exiled from her own life. -Frances Lefkowitz, Body + Soul. A poignant, unflinchingly assured memoir. Robert Braile, Boston Globe. She was also a finalist for the Rona Jaffe Award.

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.

Hall's mother sent her to another town to live with her father and stepmother, who confined her to the house. Days after giving birth (her baby was put up for adoption), she interviewed at a boarding school where she was forbidden to mention anything about her past. Hall's memoir, Without a Map, is a devastating story of what happens when a person is exiled from her own life. Frances Lefkowitz, Body + Soul See.

Without a map : a memoir

Without a map : a memoir. Then, at sixteen, she became pregnant, and all at once those who had held her close and kept her safe turned their backs.

Without a Map. Listed as one of ten truly addictive stories by O Magazine. 2007 BookSense Pick of the Year. The story is riveting, the words perfect. A Memoir. Narrated by: Kathe Mazur. Length: 9 hrs and 41 mins. I enjoyed the everyday aspects of this book. Her use of the present tense continually through this novel both gives it immediacy and provides some confusion for the reader, as it seems to jump around with no particular purpose (particularly in the second half of the book).

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.


This book is a must read for anyone who ever doubted that social injustice can happen to them, and for writers who wish to present multiple flashbacks out of sequence.

One of the more difficult crafts a writer must master is an ability to provide backstory through a flashback without losing the reader on the page, stuck in the present, and without a map. In Without a Map, Meredith Hall uses the technique easily and makes it a part of the natural flow of her story. Hall’s account of her abandonment by both her parents when she became pregnant at sixteen in 1965, and her lifetime struggle to deal with the aftermath including, coping with the abandonment of her baby, raising her own family, and to finally make peace with her mother, father, and herself, provided the perfect, tense situation for the use of flashbacks to tell her story.
Generally, writers use verb tense to show a shift in time. They write in the past tense, dream sequences in the present tense, and create flashbacks using past perfect tense. Some writers, use past perfect only in the first few sentences, to let the reader know where they are going, before switching back to past tense to finish the scene in order to keep continuity, and make the story flow. Lastly, writers ease the reader back to the main part of their story, as they had leading into the flashback, by using past perfect before moving back into simple past tense. Hall appears to have mixed it up, perhaps even experimented, until she got the tone of her story right. It has the feel of someone meditating, dwelling on, or thinking about her past in an almost irreverent manner—a revolutionary. Although she begins similar to other writers, but instead of past tense, she uses present tense to set up her story, and she takes it one step further, she removes the mystery, and some of the suspense where she begins: “Even now, I talk too much and too loud, claiming ground, afraid I will disappear from this life, too, this time of being mother, and teacher and friend” (Hall, xi), “[t]hat it—everything I care about, that I believe in, that defines and reassures me—will be wrenched from me again.” (Hall, xi). By presenting to the reader right from the beginning that she is telling a story that has already happened, stating: “[e]ven now” implying she had been referring earlier to something that had happened in the past, she allows herself the luxury of using present tense to move her story. Additionally, she now has the advantage of two perspectives to build credibility with the reader, her former younger character, who had lived through the ordeal, and her more mature character who is able to make poignant commentary reflecting on her character’s development. Positing the story in this manner presents what essentially is a flashback story, filling in the blanks of the question posited in the opening paragraph, what makes this person so afraid that her life would change again, and lose everything she’d ever cared about.
Hall’s use of a prologue, and a lead-in transition that establishes two perspectives piques the reader’s interest in the protagonist inciting her to keep reading. Thus, when she starts out with the most crucial scene in her memoir that changed her life, the climax of her external story, where she gets pregnant, the reader is drawn in to see what happened afterward to the younger character. Hall grounds the reader in the present of her story, with just enough detail background information to set the time, and place. In her first paragraph the reader learns that it is “warm day” and” “damp” near the “ocean” at “Hampton Beach” and that she is “sixteen” in “1965”. (Hall, 1). She then establishes the tense of her main story as present tense, “Hrrr, a young man says”, (emphasis added). When she wants to regress into the past to provide further back story, to show why her young character acts the way she does when she encounters a flirtatious boy on the beach for the first time, she uses present perfect in conformity with her use of present tense. She writes: “Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, is a hony-tonk place in 1965. Maybe it has always been.” (Hall, 3). The exposition is made more productive where it comes after a particularly strong scene of her first encounter with a boy, where she is aware of his sexuality, at a time when the gender rules between the sexes were strictly enforced, 1965. Her use of a flashback scene here, where she seamlessly slips back into present tense after using present perfect to set it up, presents the comparison Hall had hoped to use for the reader to make sense of a naieve sixteen year-old girl, quite different than someone of the same gender, and age today. “We’d park in the sandy lot behind the casino”—present perfect—and “[w]e ate (she slipped into present tense) hamburgers at Wimpy’s … watching all the other tourists wander by… They were French Canadians …part of why my mother refused to let us go down to the beach … that there was (past tense) something cheap and ordinary going on there … boys and girls with different rules than mine”. (Hall, 3). To ease the reader out of the flashback summary paragraph, she uses a transition phrase, and slips into past tense—“The beach was a playground of the old world”. (Hall, 4). Because Hall had established from the inception that her story was a reminiscence of some past events that changed her life, she is able to slip in and out of flashbacks without upsetting the reader, and begins again in the very next paragraph (starting in present tense): “But this summer, 1965, is a threshold time” grounding the reader again in time, and then through the guise of present perfect finds another flashback scene to show the reader why the protagonist behaves the way she does, “My mother comes to Hampton Beach, too, with Peter … [her] boss, Peter has asked her to work with him for the summer”. (Hall,4). Because the story is told in present tense, the author is able to slip into simple past tense, after the initial sentences using present perfect, in order to provide more in depth backstory in the flashback to keep the reader moving with as little delay as possible, “Before she met Peter, she 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”. (Hall, 4). [emphasis added]. As earlier, Hall again uses a familiar formula to ease the reader in and out of the flashback and into the present sense of her story through a few more lines of present perfect, followed by present tense. “I am five months pregnant. I have numbed myself for this meeting … now I feel embarrassed, a pregnant sixteen year-old in a child’s clothes”… Anthony growls”. (Hall,12).
Hall brilliantly moves back and forth using the same flashback formula—present tense, present perfect, past tense, and back to present tense—throughout the memoir in order to fill in details for the reader, provide background, and explain through exposition, why the character developed the way she did. Here, the narrative structure providing for two perspectives, one young and the other older Meredy, provide the message all of the flashbacks were meant to show:
“I have often wished that my children could remember all the
tender, floating hours of being nursed, of being held into my heart,
stroked and safe. I believe now that they do remember, that their
bodies know love and safety. I also … carry my mother’s love,
my father’s … whatever else may have gone wrong, whatever of grief
and loss is carried by each of us, so too is love. Nothing is lost.
(Hall, 211).
All of the flashbacks used by Hall were necessary, and make her character’s actions, and changes plausible. The reader is assured, after the mature character’s insights are shared, that the past events, combined with the backstory of growing up a teen-age girl in the 1960’s, that she was compelled to behave to act in the manner she did. It makes the story more powerful where, when the reader realizes how a beloved daughter fell from grace, was abandoned by her once loving parents, where she abandoned her own child, where she struggled to understand, and eventually changed herself, and reconciled with her parents, and family, it was a great feat.
Hall, Meredith. Without a Map. Beacon Press. Boston. 2007.
Grinin Grinin
In this memoir, Hall recounts being shunned and abandoned by everyone who should have been there for her (family, church, friends) when she became pregnant at 16. She gave the child up for adoption, drifted, married, had another child, and then found her first son and his adopted family. The last third of the book, after she reconnects with her first son, has some of the most stunning writing ever. At 40, she was accepted at Bowdoin College, and subsequently won a $50,000 Gift of Freedom Award that allowed her to work on this memoir. Sensitive and honest writing about an amazing life journey.
Wohald Wohald
...this is a book that anyone who has wondered, "How could someone give up their baby?" should read. And if you have ever asked, "What kind of person gives up their baby?" this is a must read, because the answer is... someone just like any of us.

Things happen beyond our control - sometimes they just get out of hand and sometimes they are just unfamiliar and unexpected. Through everything that Meredith Hall experienced since she was 16 and her world turned upside down, she has remained steadfast in hope and Love. She was shunned, she was made to feel dirty, shame, and guilt - no just by strangers or school friends or the father of her child, but her parents.

This book is a testament to the love between a child and mother. As the years passed since Memorial Day 1966, Meredith never forgets her baby - the baby everyone was ashamed of, that everyone shunned her because of, the baby that was her only companion and solace until he was born. For 21 years she counts his birthdays and thinks of him growing up... each of them without the other. This book is also a record of the attitude that society had (and still has) about the mothers and children that form the base of the adoption industry. How Dr. Quinn talks to Meredith and his careless placement of her baby in an abusive home speaks volumes.

When birth-mother, adoptive mother, and their child meet we see three people with the same heart - a heart filled with love and forgiveness and hope. Meredith Hall has written a story - her story - that not only will open eyes but will open minds and hearts as well. All our parents stories are the beginning of our stories.