Stephanie Clare Smith
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"This is what it is to survive. You find what floats and you hold on. Even if it is smaller than you."
Holding on is all fourteen-year-old Stephanie Clare Smith can do when she's left home alone in New Orleans during the summer of 1973. As she seeks to ease her solitude through her summer school algebra class, her wandering in the city, and her friendship with a streetcar operator, adults—particularly men—fail her again and again, with devastating consequences. Dreamlike and beautifully paced, this lyrical debut memoir traces the events of one harrowing summer and its repercussions throughout Stephanie's life, including her work with families in crisis and as a caregiver for the mother who abandoned her all those years ago. Through a mosaic of trauma and transcendence, memory and metaphor, scarcity and neglect, Stephanie reveals how she built connections in and to a world that had largely left her behind. Her hard-won survival echoes that of countless other survivors whose stories are never told, and her strength stands as a testament to the power of creativity.