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 isolationâmiles from her teaching job in a neighboring cityâfeels right. She buys the house and ultimately doubles its size as she waits for the call from the adoption agency to tell her sheâs 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 sheâs white and her daughter is black.Â As Monroe learns to deal with her daughterâs hair and to re-enter the dating scene, all the while coping with her own and her daughterâs major illnesses, they live under the magnified scrutiny of the small, conservative town.Â 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 sustainable family.
âHaving driven across the country to see her brand-new adopted granddaughter, Debra Monroeâs mother says the first thing that comes into her head: âI knew sheâd be black, but not this black.âÂ Monroe simply says, âMom, thereâs a blank in the baby book called Grandmaâs First Words.âÂ The sly, dry humor of this, the offering of the second chance, the reminder that everything, even the mistakes, will be written downâtells you most of what you need to know about Monroeâs approach to life, and to memoir. Her generosity of spirit never fails her.ââMarion Winik, author of First Comes Love
âMonroeâs memoir forges a remarkable canniness about motherhood and its twin perils, grief and love.ââKaren Brennan, author of Being with Rachel