Sonya Lea

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Sonya Lea

Goodreads Author

Owensboro, Kentucky, The United States



Margaret Atwood, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Lidia Yuknavitch, Patti Smith ...more

Member Since
July 2012

Sonya Lea’s memoir, Wondering Who You Are is a finalist for the Washington State Book Award, and has garnered praise in Oprah Magazine, People, and the BBC, who named it a “top ten book.” Her essays have appeared in Salon, The Southern Review, Brevity, Guernica, Cold Mountain Review, The Prentice Hall College Reader, Good Housekeeping, The Los Angeles Book Review, The Rumpus, The Butter and more. Lea teaches at Hugo House in Seattle, and to women veterans through the Red Badge Project. Her short film, EVERY BEAUTIFUL THING, won two awards for direction and several awards for score. She lives in Seattle and the Canadian Rockies. Find her at

"Sonya Lea tells her extraordinary story extraordinarily well. She has a r

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Sonya Lea Thelma & Louise. Because it's about women outlaws, and we need more of them in the era in which we are living. It's a relationship story with politics…moreThelma & Louise. Because it's about women outlaws, and we need more of them in the era in which we are living. It's a relationship story with politics intact. No one has to devolve to the other's story. The film came to me in 1991, when I was still drinking, and it would take me six more years to get up the courage to stop hurting myself, but these characters planted something in me that was a beginning. Writing my memoir was a way for me to understand and make whole my experience. It's still revolutionary to tell the truth about women's lives. (less)
Sonya Lea Hi Kathy,
Thanks for reading my memoir. I didn't go to school in Owensboro, my family left there in 1968. But once I visited OHS with my friend Mary Be…more
Hi Kathy,
Thanks for reading my memoir. I didn't go to school in Owensboro, my family left there in 1968. But once I visited OHS with my friend Mary Beth Wethington, who may have been one year ahead of you? I miss Kentucky!
All the best to you,
Average rating: 3.74 · 599 ratings · 83 reviews · 3 distinct worksSimilar authors
Wondering Who You Are: A Me...

3.73 avg rating — 588 ratings — published 2015 — 6 editions
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Creation Story: Essays

it was amazing 5.00 avg rating — 2 ratings — published 2013
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Whiteness is Not an Ancesto...

3.89 avg rating — 9 ratings2 editions
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Story of the Week at NPR

Sonya Lea and her husband Richard Bandy had a 23-year marriage filled with ups, downs and memories. In 2000 Bandy developed a rare form of appendix cancer and had an operation which was successful — sort of.

Bandy lived, but he was almost a different man. He had suffered a post-surgical complication called "anoxic insult" that cut oxygen to his brain and cleared much of his memory. He called his wi Read more of this blog post »
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Published on July 30, 2015 12:12 Tags: brain-injury, marriage, memoir

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Sonya’s Recent Updates

Whiteness is Not an Ancestor by Lisa B. Iversen
"The personal and philosophical stories/essays in Whiteness Is Not an Ancestor provide unique, often haunting perspectives from twelve women seeking to understand how their privilege has been influenced by historic connections to ancestors who partici" Read more of this review »
Whiteness is Not an Ancestor by Lisa B. Iversen
"I was fortunate enough to receive a pre-publication edition of this book. This is an extraordinary collection of essays by white women, of varied backgrounds, who are grappling with what it means to be white in their individual contexts. These 12 per" Read more of this review »
Whiteness is Not an Ancestor by Lisa B. Iversen
"This collection of essays by white women examining their family histories and the generational wounding that has led to current racism is a timely read. A prism of experiences in different voices and writing styles from several cultures and countries" Read more of this review »
More of Sonya's books…
“Ambiguous loss is considered by social scientists to be one of the most stressful kinds of loss owing to its nature: it is the loss that happens without possibility for closure.”
Sonya Lea, Wondering Who You Are: A Memoir

“I wonder if who I am is who he is. I wonder if I am anything at all.”
Sonya Lea, Wondering Who You Are: A Memoir

“We ask, 'What do you want to keep from over there?' I want to keep turning toward the people I disagree with, learning to respect them through the exchange of ideas. I want to know when to kiss in silence, when to erupt in hearty dialogue.”
Sonya Lea, Wondering Who You Are: A Memoir

“Irony and cynicism were just what the U.S. hypocrisy of the fifties and sixties called for. That’s what made the early postmodernists great artists. The great thing about irony is that it splits things apart, gets up above them so we can see the flaws and hypocrisies and duplicates. The virtuous always triumph? Ward Cleaver is the prototypical fifties father? "Sure." Sarcasm, parody, absurdism and irony are great ways to strip off stuff’s mask and show the unpleasant reality behind it. The problem is that once the rules of art are debunked, and once the unpleasant realities the irony diagnoses are revealed and diagnosed, "then" what do we do? Irony’s useful for debunking illusions, but most of the illusion-debunking in the U.S. has now been done and redone. Once everybody knows that equality of opportunity is bunk and Mike Brady’s bunk and Just Say No is bunk, now what do we do? All we seem to want to do is keep ridiculing the stuff. Postmodern irony and cynicism’s become an end in itself, a measure of hip sophistication and literary savvy. Few artists dare to try to talk about ways of working toward redeeming what’s wrong, because they’ll look sentimental and naive to all the weary ironists. Irony’s gone from liberating to enslaving. There’s some great essay somewhere that has a line about irony being the song of the prisoner who’s come to love his cage.”
David Foster Wallace

“For me, the last few years of the postmodern era have seemed a bit like the way you feel when you're in high school and your parents go on a trip, and you throw a party. You get all your friends over and throw this wild disgusting fabulous party. For a while it's great, free and freeing, parental authority gone and overthrown, a cat's-away-let's-play Dionysian revel. But then time passes and the party gets louder and louder, and you run out of drugs, and nobody's got any money for more drugs, and things get broken and spilled, and there's cigarette burn on the couch, and you're the host and it's your house too, and you gradually start wishing your parents would come back and restore some fucking order in your house. It's not a perfect analogy, but the sense I get of my generation of writers and intellectuals or whatever is that it's 3:00 A.M. and the couch has several burn-holes and somebody's thrown up in the umbrella stand and we're wishing the revel would end. The postmodern founders' patricidal work was great, but patricide produces orphans, and no amount of revelry can make up for the fact that writers my age have been literary orphans throughout our formative years. We're kind of wishing some parents would come back. And of course we're uneasy about the fact that we wish they'd come back--I mean, what's wrong with us? Are we total pussies? Is there something about authority and limits we actually need? And then the uneasiest feeling of all, as we start gradually to realize that parents in fact aren't ever coming back--which means we're going to have to be the parents.”
David Foster Wallace

“War is what happens when language fails.”
Margaret Atwood
tags: war

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