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The Divorce Girl

Meet Deborah Shapiro, a New Jersey teenage photographer whose parents’ outrageous divorce lands her in the biggest flea market in the free world, a Greek diner with immigration issues, a New York City taxi company, a radical suburban synagogue, a hippie-owned boutique, bowling alleys, beaches, and bagel shops. As her home explodes, a first love, a series of almost-mothers, and a comical collection of eccentric mentors show Deborah how to make art out of a life, and life from the wreckage of a broken home. Join Kansas poet laureate Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg as she explores loss, grief, and bad behavior with humor and imagination. This coming of age story illuminates how a daring heart can turn a broken girl into a woman strong enough to craft a life of art, soul, and beauty.

“When her family explodes, Deborah shuts down. Her world shrinks to what she sees through her camera’s viewfinder. As she focuses on images she creates, her life emerges, filled with possibilities beyond bruises, beyond self-destruction. Art creates for her a life she could not imagine in any other way. The Divorce Girl is a visionary novel, a powerful story of pain and healing.”–Peggy Shumaker,  Alaska State Writer Laureate

“Kansas Poet Laureate Mirriam-Goldberg (The Sky Begins at Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community, and Coming Home to the Body) successfully leaps into the fiction world with her debut novel, a moving coming-of-age story 14 years in the making. At 15 years old, New Jerseyan Deborah Shapiro knows about divorce, yet this budding photographer’s conception of how it should play out quickly dissolves when her bellicose father announces he will remain in the house after her parents’ split. Since a photography class assignment to shoot “whatever is most wrong in your life” coincides with the domestic break-up, Deborah documents every nuance of her increasingly bizarre life, including the violent fights between her parents; a flea market where her father and his new girlfriend, Fatima, sell cheap plus-size clothing; and her father’s subsequent marriage to Fatima. As Deborah unsuccessfully seeks a mother figure to help her endure her father’s regular verbal and physical abuses, she finds support from a kindly rabbi, a Jewish youth group, and her photography classmates. Documenting her life through a camera’s lens helps to lessen the pain of her circumstances, as well as propel her down the track toward a career in photography. Deborah’s story unfolds slowly, but the pacing showcases an insecure yet resilient teenager who ultimately emerges as a strong, compassionate adult.”–Publishers Weekly

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the 2009-2012 Poet Laureate of Kansas, and a long-time transformative language artist. As a poet, fiction and non-fiction writer, teacher, mentor, and facilitator, she explores and celebrates how the spoken, written, and sung word can help us live more meaningful and vibrant lives. Founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College (where she teaches), and facilitator of Brave Voice workshops, she values social and personal transformation through the spoken, written and sung word. Her book The Sky Begins At Your Feet received a Starred Review with Library Journal.

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