Body Leaping Backward: Memoir of a Delinquent Girlhood (Hardcover)
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The “mesmerizing . . . daring and important”* story of a risk-taking girlhood spent in a working-class prison town
*Andre Dubus III
For Maureen Stanton’s proper Catholic mother, the town’s maximum security prison was a way to keep her seven children in line (“If you don’t behave, I’ll put you in Walpole Prison!"). But as the 1970s brought upheaval to America, and the lines between good and bad blurred, Stanton’s once-solid family lost its way. A promising young girl with a smart mouth, Stanton turns watchful as her parents separate and her now-single mother descends into shoplifting, then grand larceny, anything to keep a toehold in the middle class for her children. No longer scared by threats of Walpole Prison, Stanton too slips into delinquency—vandalism, breaking and entering—all while nearly erasing herself through addiction to angel dust, a homemade form of PCP that swept through her hometown in the wake of Nixon’s “total war” on drugs.
Body Leaping Backward is the haunting and beautifully drawn story of a self-destructive girlhood, of a town and a nation overwhelmed in a time of change, and of how life-altering a glimpse of a world bigger than the one we come from can be.
About the Author
MAUREEN STANTON, the author of Killer Stuff and Tons of Money, has been awarded the Iowa Review prize, a Pushcart Prize, the American Literary Review award in nonfiction, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Stanton teaches at UMass Lowell.
“A blazingly important memoir about the possibility of change.”
—People Magazine, Best New Books
“Forget the cult of the bad boy, Maureen Stanton's Body Leaping Backward makes my skin shiver and my heart pound out a hell yes. Set in the 70s and the coming wave of drugs, a family falls to pieces. The mother descends into delinquency and soon Maureen follows—but this story reminds us how mothers and daughters clawing their way back to life is an epic journey of courage and guts and heart. A triumph.”
—Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Misfit’s Manifesto and The Chronology of Water
“Body Leaping Backward, bursting with radiant storytelling, seamlessly sets Maureen Stanton's childhood struggles against the unraveling social tapestry that was America in the 1970s. This is a page-turning narrative that illuminates so much about her personal and our cultural darkest moments.”
—Michael Patrick MacDonald, author of All Souls: A Family Story from Southie
"The miracle isn't how Maureen Stanton survived her harrowing adolescence, but how she can write about it with such beauty and clarity. I read this in one heart-in-my-throat sitting."
—Monica Wood, author of When We Were the Kennedys and The One-in-a- Million Boy
“Written with sensual, poetic, and evocative prose, this remarkable memoir is an honest exploration of what it means to come of age in the quiet wreckage of a broken home, when social norms were shifting and it was so very easy to fall perilously between the cracks. A deeply moving, timely, and important memoir.”
—Andre Dubus III, author of Townie and Gone So Long
“I read Maureen Stanton’s memoir with respect and appreciation. I am proud and heartbroken at the story she tells—proud that she reached a point where she could write it all down, and heartbroken at how much courage and resilience is necessary to survive.”
—Dorothy Allison, author of Two or Three Things I Know for Sure and Bastard out of Carolina
“A masterful storyteller, Maureen Stanton has written a timeless and timely memoir of an all-American girlhood derailed by drugs and loss, which is both heartbreaking and hilarious. Body Leaping Backward is a luminous portrait of a family and a country at a crucial moment of change. Important and riveting, this is a wonder of a book.”
—E.J. Levy, author of Love, in Theory and The Cape Doctor
“An unsparing look at a girlhood that veers off the rails into young adulthood. Sharp, candid, and deeply felt, her story shows the way our upbringings live on in our blood.”
—The Boston Globe
“Powerful and probing, Stanton's book offers a sharp portrait of a wayward girl "leaping backward" into disaster. Along the way, she reveals the way individuals are as much a product of time and place as they are of the families to which they belong. A compellingly honest coming-of-age memoir.”
“Engaging . . . this is a great choice for memoir readers and anyone interested in the ’70s.”
"Memorable and beautiful."
"An informative, intelligent read for anyone, young or old, trying to make sense of teenage rebellion . . . A well-told, insightful memoir that could hardly be more relevant today."