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Ghostbread

Ghostbread 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

  • Title: Ghostbread
  • Author: Sonja Livingston
  • ISBN: 9780820333984
  • Page: 146
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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 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.

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      Published :2019-06-07T08:39:47+00:00

    About "Sonja Livingston"

    1. Sonja Livingston

      Sonja Livingston s essay collection, Ladies Night at the Dreamland, combines memory, research and imagination to provide poetic profiles of historic women Her collection, Queen of the Fall, weaves together strands of memory with icons from 1980s 90s pop culture, religion and mythology to consider the lives of women, while exploring beauty, fertility and longing Her award winning memoir, Ghostbread, was widely adopted for classroom and book club use Sonja s writing has earned an AWP Book Award in Nonfiction, a NYFA Fellowship, an Iowa Review Award, and a Susan Atefat Essay Prize and appears in several textbooks on writing, as well as many literary journals She splits her time between New York State and Tennessee where she teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Memphis.

    293 Comments

    1. Writing about a deprived childhood is tricky. Too stoic, and the reader fails to engage. Too emotional and the reader smells self-pity. So the fact that Sonja Livingston is able to punch right through the shame and ache and hunger to the truth of such a childhood marks her as an emotionally smart and technically gifted writer. Livingston is even-handed in her depictions. She celebrates the good times, the strengths of her family members, and turns an observant child's eye on the hard times. For [...]


    2. Memoirs are my favorite reads, and Ghostbread is easily going to be added as a favorite! Sonja Livingston pours her heart and soul into her story of growing up during the 1970's in the Rochester, NY area. Living with her single mother and siblings, life was tough. The family was poverty-stricken and times were hard. There was always church in Sonja's lifea bright spot for her to meet friends and neighbors. It took me back to a time when you knew everyone on your block, all of the neighborhood ki [...]


    3. Living in and through poverty intruigues me. I often wonder how some of my students manage to care about what I teach when I know they are living through a hell I cannot imagine. This woman's story is so poignant because she grew up in Rochester, in a neighborhood I am familiar with and also attended the church where my kids were baptised. Although I do not know her, I find myself craving more information about her and her family. This is not fiction is a memoir and I highly recommend it.


    4. This book tells with eloquent prose a tale of poverty, neglect and somehow magic of childhood that brings the author to survival and ultimately success. It's evocative where it needs to be and is told with a gentle touch that makes all the more real the stunning success of survival despite crushing circumstances.


    5. I'm not given to 5 star ratings easily. They have to be earned and this young author, Sonja Livingston, has a way of writing that simply blows me away. Her style is clear and crisp - straight to the point. Yes, Ghostbread is non-fiction, so you could say this is a memoir. But it's also short stories - a mechanism Livingston uses brilliantly to present her childhood. And let me say now this is not a whining, self-pitying attempt at catharsis. Livingston's use of language is powerful and direct. S [...]


    6. Sonja Livingston wrote a very lyrical memoir of her childhood years in this book. The style of the book has very short snippets of things that had happened in her life. This made the book read very quickly. The stories she has to tell are very interesting and telling of them truly brings everything to life in this book. I could fully imagine the times, settings, feelings, and even aromas that would be in the air. Sonja did an excellent job with her descriptions that every sense is described and [...]


    7. This was a painful read at times. Sonja Livingston's honest portrayal of living in poverty in the Rochester area was eye opening. After reading about her life, and the many challenges children growing up in a poverty stricken environment face, I wonder how anyone can develop the self motivation to make it out. I can't really rate this book in the usual way - did I love reading it? No, honestly, it made me uncomfortable. But sometimes being uncomfortable, and learning about life outside your own [...]


    8. I heard Sonja read at AWP (she was the non-fiction winner) and it was incredible. Her story is stunning, but it's the way that she tells it, in tantalizing, terrifying bites, like some kind of sweet bookish torture, that blew me away. All that yearning and loss and beauty and horror all mixed up togethermme very best kind of writing.


    9. What an interesting format for a memoir; it's almost a hybrid of poetry and literary nonfiction. So far, I'm rather loving it.This is the sort of memoir I will keep on my shelf, and return to for inspiration. It's lovely.


    10. This book was simple, but it was moving. Some times it is difficult to see that poverty is right where you live. Or you know it is there but don't know anything about it or ignore it. It was eye-opening. Our book club liked it.


    11. My cousin, who shares the same hometown as the author, shared this special book with me. IT was heartbreaking but vivid and candid, and explored and illuminated the life of a young girl living through tough times. beautifully written short chapters that could stand alone as essays.


    12. I grew up blocks away from Sonja in Rochester so I could feel the streets as she described them. We didn't have a lot of money but certainly not the poverty she experienced even though as a kid I probably saw it and didn't understand it. I liked her writing style, almost short essays and very matter of fact about her struggles just to get through a day.




    13. I was a little bummed the way the story ended. I would have liked to know the end relationship with So njas mom


    14. Loved this book and I have recommended it to several friends. The short chapters work well and create a strong narrative thread.


    15. I won this book through a giveaway. This is a very short autobiographical memoir by Sonja Livingston. As one of seven children Sonja knows what is to be hungry. This look at poverty is in many ways not a typical one. Sonja lived in New York - yet it isn't quite the inner-city poverty most people probably think of when the imagine being poor. Of course that ins't saying this book doesn't have value, as it clearly does. Livingston writes simply. Her sentences and chapters are direct and to the po [...]


    16. Memoirs of a Catholic girl growing up in extreme poverty in the Rochester area in the 1970's. This is a heartbreaking story that's beautifully written. Sonja was one of seven children; the oldest three from the same father, the other four are from all different fathers. Sonja writes that it was no big deal not having a father, but she talks about fathers a lot and it's a deep source of shame - "Despite so many daddies; we'd somehow ended up with none." Sonja's mother moved her family back and fo [...]


    17. I don't often read memoirs, preferring an escape from past and present instead. I read reviews of ghostbread by Sonja Livingston, a local author who inscribed this poignant work of non fiction to all the girls of Rochester, Buffalo, and places in between. Growing up in Rochester, Spencerport, Brockport and currently LeRoy, I was intrigued. The author barely graduated from East High, also my Mother's alma mater. I was not only transported to places and time periods I could relate to, but also to [...]


    18. This memoir about growing up dirt poor in western New York is a haunting, beautifully written testament to the resilience of the human spirit when love and caring shape the landscape. Born into a single mother's family of seven children, most of whom had different fathers, Livingston paints a picture of her mother's inability to control her own life while struggling to keep her brood of half-brothers and half-sisters together.In a series of good-humored, vignette-style chapters, Livingston tells [...]


    19. In the interest of full disclosure, let me say that I won this book in a giveaway.And that I am not a very excellent review-writer!That said, I loved it. Not because I won it, but because it waswell, I still haven't been able to think of a word! It was definitely different from what I expected and not my normal reading fare, at least by style, but it was still awesome. In a way, it reminded me of The Glass Castle, but again, completely different in writing style. Hardly any chapters are longer [...]


    20. As is ever the case with memoirs, mostly I thought two things while reading this book:1) What is the point of this person telling me all of this?and 2) Could I write memoirs/personal essays? These are short; I write short well. I have funny stories… 'Course everyone has funny stories…I suspect the answer to my second question is, "You could try, but good luck selling it." And to the first, "Weren't you paying any attention!?" I'm not good at reading non-fiction, especially when it's this sub [...]


    21. Sonja Livingston's Ghostbread bears witness to the experience of childhood poverty and seeks, in its understated epilogue, to make sense of why some may escape while others do not.This memoir is divided up into 122 very short chapters, each able to hold its own as a bit of flash nonfiction. What I enjoy most about this memoir is the poetic grace of Livingston's phrases and descriptions. You can turn to any page, pick any random sentence, and discover something to admire. For example, Livingston [...]


    22. Charming! If there was a second volume, I'd scoop it up! I enjoyed the storytelling, and was totally enamored with the author as a girl through age 10. What a gift for storytelling, and a blessing to have the memories. But, as her teen years came on, I was surprised at the lack of rage and contempt towards her mother. I was stuck that she no longer mentioned poverty or longing for belongings as a teen. Sadly, maybe her longing faded away. I also really enjoyed the tiny chapters! I was delighted [...]


    23. A really smart book -- 123 brief essays, many like vignettes, in a coming-of-age narrative that documents poverty and an unstable childhood without resorting to the usual cliches in this type of narrative. Livingston can turn a phrase and capture these crystallized moments. One of my favorite is her longing for a necklace that featured a tiny real Pepsi bottle filled with Pepsi, worn by one of the many older girls she ran with. The theme of the ghostbread (and any bread) is woven through like, w [...]


    24. A moving, poetic, entirely unsentimental evocation of growing up in Western New York. Livingston's depiction of poverty and Roman Catholicism told through the eyes of an intelligent and independent young girl makes your heart ache. This memoir, divided into chapters (and as another reviewer stated, each can be read on its own) depicts growing up in the slums of Rochester, New York and on the Tonawanda Indian reservation. Amid the lack of food and security, Livingston also describes with a child [...]


    25. I breathe easier too when I finally get to know more about the author's father (her single mother withheld the information about each child's father until they turn 14 years old--yes, each child has a different father). I'm cheering too and letting the light pour in when the author does indeed graduate from high school. I so appreciate all Ms Livingston's well-chosen words about how she almost chose differently. For example: "ough I'd shaken my head from side to side and tsked those girls and th [...]


    26. I wanted to love this AWP award-winning book and was at first entranced with the promise of an examination of a childhood of poverty in short, concise chapters that ended on a strong image, like a prose poem. But then the book failed at self-contemplation, just plodded on through the houses and people trailing in and out of the author's life, people never drawn in more than just a sketch. The book then ends with her graduation from high school and transferring to her next, more educated life. If [...]


    27. Really terrific memoir about growing up poor in upstate New York. I love the short chaptersI always think "Oh, just one more" and then 10 later I'm still going. Something about short chapters motivates me! You really get inside her head as she is navigating adolescence and the tribulations of her family. Her lack of father and erratic mother. Her many siblings. Being one of the only white kids in a largely minority area. Trying to escape the cycle of poverty that seems to be the only path availa [...]


    28. This is one of the most devastatingly beautiful pieces of writing I've ever encountered. Livingston has mined her childhood to create a piece of creative non-fiction second to none. I run the risk of hyperbolic and effusive praise, but Sonja's narrative and structure are pitch perfect, uncannily astute, and aesthetically brilliant. Memory vignettes, poetic in nature, propel the reader along a trajectory of transcendent beauty. In an assured and quiet way the theme of growing up under the grip of [...]


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