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Ghostbread

Ghostbread

SONJA LIVINGSTON
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46n6kb
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    Ghostbread
    Book Description:

    "When you eat soup every night, thoughts of bread get you through." Ghostbread makes real for us the shifting homes and unending hunger that shape the life of a girl growing up in poverty during the 1970s. One of seven children brought up by a single mother, Sonja Livingston was raised in areas of western New York that remain relatively hidden from the rest of America. From an old farming town to an Indian reservation to a dead-end urban neighborhood, Livingston and her siblings follow their nonconformist mother from one ramshackle house to another on the perpetual search for something better. Along the way, the young Sonja observes the harsh realities her family encounters, as well as small moments of transcendent beauty that somehow keep them going. While struggling to make sense of her world, Livingston perceives the stresses and patterns that keep children-girls in particular-trapped in the cycle of poverty. Larger cultural experiences such as her love for Wonder Woman and Nancy Drew and her experiences with the Girl Scouts and Roman Catholicism inform this lyrical memoir. Livingston firmly eschews sentimentality, offering instead a meditation on what it means to hunger and showing that poverty can strengthen the spirit just as surely as it can grind it down.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-3750-0
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. preface (pp. vii-viii)
  3. acknowledgments (pp. ix-x)
  4. part one the get go (pp. 1-104)

    I know where I came from.

    It must have been April or May of 1967 when he came through town, a vacuum-cleaner salesman with a carload of rubber belts, metal tubing, and suction hoses. Spring in western New York, it was probably a sunless day—he may have been chilled as he grabbed hold of his Kirby upright, walked to the door, and rang the bell.

    She was a well-formed redhead with a dry-cleaning job and a house full of children to forget. She must have put hand to hip, flashed falsely shy eyes, and said something about not needing...

  5. part two dead end days (pp. 105-236)

    By the time we pushed our belongings up Lamont Place, most families were headed in the opposite direction. Anyone with a car got in and pointed it east, toward the comfortable ranches and Cape Cods that had sprung up just beyond the city’s reach.

    But to us, Lamont Place was great, a giant step up.

    We had our own backyard, big enough to play in. There was room for my mother to plant a vegetable garden, space out front for a line of pink roses, even a big old lilac spreading along the fence line like an overgrown child. As...

  6. epilogue (pp. 237-239)

    Ask anyone who leaves one world for another and you’ll hear about a kind of limbo. Once you pass through certain doors, you can no longer go back—you find that your body has grown in ways you could not have predicted, and no longer fits. Even if you sucked everything in and forced yourself through, the rooms you’d find would feel smaller somehow. Constricted.

    And still, the place at which you’ve arrived isn’t quite right either. The rooms are wide and light, but you angle your body by habit; manage somehow to sit down to tea, but always, bits...