Beacon Press: Without a Map
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Without a Map

A Memoir

Author: Meredith Hall

A prizewinning author’s story of banishment and reconciliation, already excerpted in the New York Times

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. When he is twenty-one, her lost son finds her. 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.
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“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

“Heartbreaking, uplifting, and luminous, Without a Map contains some of the most lyrical and evocative prose I have I ever read. Meredith Hall’s story of loss, shame, and betrayal is also a story of joy, reconnection, and survival; each memory takes us deep to the marrow of sorrow and celebration. “
—Kim Barnes, author of In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country

Winner of the Elle nonfiction readers’ pick for the month of April:
“In this stark, stunning, and devastating account of being shunned by her family and New England community after giving birth out of wedlock in the ‘60s, Hall writes about what was and what might have been. Particularly moving is her haunting description of wandering in Europe and the Middle East, ultimately shoeless, penniless, and utterly alone. Refreshingly, she tells about life via a collection of beautifully rendered sketches instead of a linear narrative.” —Sheila McClear, NYC

“Meredith Hall is like a geiger counter ticking along the radium edge of these recent decades. She gives us self as expert witness—Without a Map is smart, sharp, and redemptively honest.” —Sven Birkerts, author of The Gutenberg Elegies and My Sky Blue Trades

“Meredith Hall boldly charts one of the bravest of stories, the journey from disrupted youth up through that most tricky and forbidding territory, the family circle. Bone-honest and strong in its every line, this work of memory is a remarkably deep retrieval of its times and souls, thereby reflecting our own.” —Ivan Doig, author of Heart Earth

Without A Map tells an important and perceptive story about loss, about aloneness and isolation in a time of great need, about a life slowly coming back into focus and the calm that finally emerges. Meredith Hall is a brave new writer who earns our attention.” —Annie Dillard, author of For the Time Being

“An unusually elegant memoir that feels as though its been carved straight out of Meredith Hall’s capacious heart. The story is riveting, the words perfect. It is rare to read a work that manages to be at once artful and compelling, which for me best describes Meredith Hall’s debut work. Few people write like this. Fewer still have the courage to live like this—without the comfort of any clich‚àöv†.” —Lauren Slater, author of Opening Skinner’s Box, Prozac Diary, and Welcome to My Country

“Meredith Hall’s magnificent book held me in its thrall from the moment I began reading the opening pages. It is a moving example of a difficult life redeemed first through examination, then reflection, then finally it turns—like a rough stone polished until it gleams—into a genuine work of art.” —Dani Shapiro, author of Family History

“Open adoptions and connections between birth mothers and their children were not the way of life for a young girl who got pregnant in the ‘60s. Meredith Hall, in her beautifully written, poignant memoir, tells us what life was like for a naive girl who found herself pregnant and abandoned by her mother and father. This is a tale of loss, of endless traveling in search of an intangible something, and, ultimately, of forgiveness.” —Gayle Shanks, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ

“Appalling and infuriating, yet uplifting and inspiring, Without A Map pulls you into Hall’s personal experience of sudden rejection and expulsion from her only sources of sustenance and connection. As an adoptive parent I cried and cheered for her through her exile and return to a very different home. Meredith Hall is a hero of awesome courage and eloquence.” —Frank Kramer, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA

Without a Map is Meredith Hall’s memoir, the story of giving up a child at the age of sixteen, and then meeting him when he was twenty-one, years later, and now forging a relationship with him. It’s an unbelievable read.” —Robin Young, “Here and Now”


Review by: Juliet Wittman, Washington Post - August 26, 2007
“Each chapter of Without a Map is polished and elegantly written…the structure is shapely and the book yields poignant insights.”
Review: AARP website - August 3, 2007
“Wherever you stand on Roe v. Wade, you can’t help but be moved by this memoir of an unwed pregnant teen forced by her parents to give up her baby in 1965. It will make you think AND break your heart.” Read Full Review
Review by: Mary Cotton, owner of Newtonville Books, in the Newton TAB - July 24, 2007
“Fans of Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle should take note of Meredith Hall’s memoir, heartbreaking and ultimately heartwarming despite its unsentimental prose. As a naïve 16-year-old who finds herself pregnant and kicked out of her home, Hall is then forced to give up her child for adoption. Years later, after a tumultuous life, her first son tracks her down. A moving exploration of love, loss and forgiveness.
Review by: Tina Ristau, The Des Moines Register - June 10, 2007
Without a Map, is so well written that it was hard for me to accept that the book had to end.”
Review by: Frances Lefkowitz, Body + Soul - June 1, 2007
Without a Map is a devastating story of what happens when a person is exiled from her own life. It speaks of shame, of love betrayed, and of a young woman leaving home to drift alone…Eventually, Hall marries, has two more children, divorces, and then reunites with her firstborn son in a miraculous, though complicated, happy ending.”
Review by: Mike Pride, Concord Monitor - May 13, 2007
“[Without a Map] is a searing memoir about loss, betrayal, love and, in some measure, reconciliation. It has already brought Hall a celebrity that surprises her: stories in People, Oprah and Elle, an interview on National Public Radio, brisk sales in a crowded marketplace. It is on the extended New York Times bestseller list. What is arresting about this memoir is the world it reveals.”

Review by: Jennifer DeCamp, St. Petersburg Times - May 13, 2007
Without a Map offers an honest, unflinching glimpse into motherhood. There's Hall in her teens, trying to understand why the strong bond between her and her unborn child exists after his birth and disappearance from her life. There's Hall in her 20s, yearning for her mother to explain why she would abandon her daughter when she needed her most. And then, there's Hall in her 30s, standing on the porch to finally welcome her firstborn to her home…Elegant prose makes Without a Map an evocative, thought-provoking read. But Hall's heartrending candor on love, loss and hope turn this first-time author's book into a one-sided conversation among new friends.”
Review by: Liz Bulkley, Host of “The Front Porch,” NH Public Radio - May 4, 2007
Without a Map tells a stunning story of exile and ostracization. Meredith grew up on the seacoast of New Hampshire and became pregnant at age 16, in 1965. Her memoir is a rare and clear glimpse into the social mores of the mid 60's, and reveals the state of shame many families faced when an unmarried daughter became pregnant.”
Review by: Lola Furber, Maine Women’s Journal - May 1, 2007
"Painfully honest and beautifully written…Meredith Hall has managed to distill courage from raw pain, and then somehow write this gem of a book about the experience…A stunning book…You must read it.”
Review by: Wendy Smith, AARP The Magazine - May 1, 2007
“Hall’s sensitive, honest account of her personal odyssey shows one remarkable woman transcending this trauma to become a better, stronger person.”
Review: INtake Weekly - April 30, 2007
“Hall's life, as depicted in this memoir, was nothing if not two things—difficult and fascinating. With no family, friends or other support system, she took her life into her own hands at an early, tender age, and she fell quite far before finally rising up. The reader gets the benefit of her trials, a gritty view of the world from America to Europe to the Middle East.”
Review by: Jan Gardner, Boston Globe - April 29, 2007
“A lyrical, acutely observed memoir.”
Review by: Robert Braile, Boston Globe - April 25, 2007
“As told in this poignant, unflinchingly assured memoir, the arc of Hall's life after giving up her newborn son for adoption in 1966 was anything but traditional…Hall tells of that trek with journalistic dispassion, stripping it of self-indulgence and thus enhancing its honesty…As she writes, there is not a whisper of self-pity or self-aggrandizement, so often the banes of memoir….Hall does find a semblance of peace in her life, one rooted in nature, a theme that resonates throughout this exquisite memoir.” Read Full Review
Review by: Caroline Leavitt, People (4 Stars) - April 23, 2007
"In 1965, Meredith Hall was just another young girl who got pregnant at 16. Think you know the whole story? Guess again, because Hall colors outside the lines with this memoir, full of unexpected twists and turns...Hall eloquently tells the story of her rebirth... Achingly sad, this is a stunning exploration of the mystery of 'love and all its failings...and its final redemptions.' A haunting meditation on love, loss and family."
Review by: Rebecca Rule, Nashua Telegraph - April 15, 2007
“Hall, a brave and graceful writer who teaches at UNH, examines her life with wide open eyes and an equally open heart. Even as she wrestles with the grief of many losses—her child, her parents’ love and respect, her standing in her community, her identity—she demonstrates the writer’s gift of separating from her own experiences, establishing an objectivity that allows her to make meaning for herself and readers.”

Review: LA Times - April 15, 2007
"A modern-day Scarlet Letter."
Review by: Alanna Nash, Entertainment Weekly - April 1, 2007
"Hall emerges as a brave writer of tumultuous beauty."
Review by: Francine Prose, O Magazine - April 1, 2007
“Nostalgic for the good old days of Norman Rockwell America? Without a Map may forever change the way you look at small-town life. Meredith 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.”
Review: - March 27, 2007
“a compelling, painful, hopeful story.”Read Full Review
Review: - March 21, 2007
“Think for a moment of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, of banishment, reconciliation, redemption, and you’ll get the scope of Without a Map, the new memoir by Meredith Hall . . . An extraordinary tale, made all the more moving by Hall’s unsentimental prose and ample heart.”Read Full Review
Review: Kirkus, starred review - January 1, 2007
“An unusually powerful coming-of-age memoir… Searching, humble and quietly triumphant: Hall has managed to avoid all the easy clichés.”
Review: Booklist - December 15, 2006
“Written in spare, unsentimental prose, Without a Map is stunning; Meredy’s reunion with her grown son (who was raised in poverty with an abusive father) is the highlight. Book groups, take note.”

Without a Map

ISBN: 978-080707273-8
Publication Date: 4/1/2007
Pages: 248
Size:5.5 x 8.5 Inches (US)
Price:  $24.95
Format: Cloth
Availability: In stock.
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