Leslie Lindsay's Reviews > Without a Map

Without a Map by Meredith Hall
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it was amazing
Read 2 times. Last read February 5, 2019 to February 7, 2019.

Gorgeously written, absolutely stunning account of one woman's account of familial isolation, loss, love, and so much more. It's elegant, evocative, and emotive.

Honestly, I am not sure how it is I missed this book the first time around; it was first published in 2008 --and it was a BEST SELLER! I think I recently learned about it because of Dani Shapiro's new book, INHERITANCE (January 2019--also a best seller). Dani originally blurbed on the back cover of WITHOUT A MAP then I *think* she wrote about her favorite memoirs of all time in a recent(ish) essay I happened to catch.

That said, this book is fantastic.

The topics are not--so keep that in mind. Meredith Hall, a 'good girl,' with high grades, a summer job, and doing everything else right, meets a boy at the beach and...gets pregnant. It's the mid-1960s. She's shunned. Her mother sends her to live with her father and his wife, Catherine, Meredith's step-mother. But they don't really want her, either. They tell her to stay inside at all times, and by-the-way, they have to leave for business. Meredith is alone, sixteen, and pregnant in her father's crumbling old Colonial (they are renovating).

The baby is born, she's forced to give the child up for adoption. She doesn't want to. I won't go into too many more details, but WITHOUT A MAP is about losing oneself, finding herself again. Meredith travels America, the Middle East, Europe, all in search of...what, exactly? Herself? Belonging? Her child? There's even a brief stint at a sailor. And yet, there are some very perceptive scenes, insight into family estrangement, life and death the world at large, and it ends on several bittersweet notes.

I can't say enough about WITHOUT A MAP. I'm in awe. I loved every minute. Honest, authentic. Brave. And the writing--oh, the writing!

Definitely found similarities between other memoirs, but nothing I've read is quite the same. One might liken it to BLACKBIRD (Jennifer Lauck) meets INHERITANCE (Dani Shapiro), meets THE ELECTRIC WOMAN (Tessa Fontaine), and maybe RUNNING WITH SCISSORS (Augusten Burroughs) in some regards --but again, WITHOUT A MAP just in a category all it's own.

For all my reviews, including author interviews, please see: www.leslielindsay.com

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
May 19, 2012 – Shelved
February 5, 2019 – Started Reading
February 7, 2019 – Finished Reading

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