Portland State University. Department of English
Date of Publication
Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Creative Writing
Families -- Montana -- Biography, Coming of age -- Montana -- Biography, Identity (Philosophical concept) -- Biography
1 online resource (iv, 202 p.)
About a Girl is a coming-of-age memoir set in Montana, a place that I yearned to belong to, but was also desperate to flee. My girlhood was in some ways idyllic--I was a bright child, the oldest of six, and the bulk of my early education took place in rural one-room schools. When school was out, I ran free and wild in the relative safety of several ranches and farms that my stepdad worked on over the years. But as I entered adolescence, I began experimenting with drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, and other high-risk behaviors. This memoir explores themes of family, identity, isolation, and longing for transformation. My shifting relation to self is mirrored in my shifting relation to place, as my family moves to increasingly isolated locales during my girlhood; as I bounce between my mom's and dad's homes during a turbulent adolescence; and as I seek to establish independence by moving to Denver as soon as I graduate high school. Like many rural kids, I was ill prepared for the urban existence I'd idealized, and once I was on my own, I quickly progressed from being evicted from my first apartment to living on the streets. By using techniques such as dialogue, characterization, and scene building to give my memories narrative form, I seek to reconcile the girl I was with the woman I have become. In exploring the distance between these two selves, I also attempt to make peace with the stories I tell about who I am and how I came to be. For some of us, it is only by nearly destroying ourselves that we are able to find out who we are, and only by leaving home that we are able to make our way back.
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Graff, Haili Jones, "About a Girl" (2010). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1149.