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Without a Map: A Memoir (Paperback)

Without a Map: A Memoir By Meredith Hall Cover Image
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“A brave writer of tumultuous beauty.” Entertainment Weekly
“Beautifully rendered.” —Elle

"A poignant, unflinchingly assured memoir.” —The Boston Globe
 
This “sobering portrayal” of a pregnant teen exiled from her small New Hampshire community is “a testament to the importance of understanding and even forgiving the people who . . . have made us who we are” (O, The Oprah Magazine).
 
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. Her lost son finds her when he is twenty-one. 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.

About the Author


Meredith Hall’s awards include a two-year literary grant from A Room of Her Own Foundation, a Pushcart Prize and Maine’s Book of the Year award. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Kenyon Review, The Paris Review, Five Points and many other journals and anthologies. Her debut novel, Beneficence, was published by David. R. Godine Publishing in 2020. Hall is Professor Emerita in the MFA writing program at the University of New Hampshire, and divides her time between Maine and California.

Praise For…


"Hall emerges as a brave writer of tumultuous beauty."
—Alanna Nash, Entertainment Weekly

"First-time author Hall pens a haunting meditation on love, loss, and family . . . Hall colors outside the lines with this memoir, full of unexpected twists and turns."
—Caroline Leavitt, People (rated 4 out of 4 stars)

"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 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, O, The Oprah Magazine

"Meredith Hall's long journey from an inexcusably betrayed girlhood to the bittersweet mercies of womanhood is a triple triumph—of survival; of narration; and of forgiveness. Without a Map is a masterpiece."
—David James Duncan, author of The Brothers K and God Laughs and Plays

"Each chapter of Without a Map is polished and elegantly written . . . the structure is shapely and the book yields poignant insights."
—Juliet Wittman, Washington Post

"Beautifully rendered."
Elle, nonfiction readers' pick

"In 1965, in a small New Hampshire town, sixteen-year-old Meredith Hall got pregnant and was consequently kicked out of her school, home, church, and community. 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

"A poignant, unflinchingly assured memoir . . . exquisite."
—Robert Braile, Boston Globe

"Meredith Hall's magnificent book held me in its thrall from the moment I began reading the opening pages . . . a fluid, beautifully written, hard-won piece of work that belongs on the shelf next to the best modern memoirs.
—Dani Shapiro, author of Black and White

"An unusually elegant memoir that feels as though it's been carved straight out of Meredith Hall's capacious heart. The story is riveting, the words perfect."
—Lauren Slater, author of Welcome to My Country and Opening Skinner's Box

"Without a Map is stunning . . . Book groups, take note."
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Product Details
ISBN: 9780807072745
ISBN-10: 0807072745
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication Date: April 1st, 2008
Pages: 256
Language: English