"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
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.
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