On the Outskirts of Normal
Forging a Family against the Grain
Southern Methodist University Press
On Sale: May 7, 2010
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Mired in debt and on the run from a series of broken homes,
about-to-be-divorced Debra Monroe pulls up in front of a
tumbledown cabin outside a small Texas town. Its
isolationâ€”miles from her teaching job in a neighboring
cityâ€”feels right. She buys the house and ultimately doubles
its size as she waits for the call from the adoption agency
to tell her sheâ€™s going to be a mom. Now in her forties, she
is swept into the strange new world of single motherhood,
complicated by the fact that sheâ€™s white and her daughter is
black. As Monroe learns to deal with her daughterâ€™s hair and
to re-enter the dating scene, all the while coping with her
own and her daughterâ€™s major illnesses, they live under the
magnified scrutiny of the small, conservative town.
Confronting her past in order to make a better life for her
daughter, Monroe rebuilds not only a half-ruined cabin in
the woods but her sense of what it is that makes a
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