Body Leaping Backward
For Maureen Stanton’s proper Catholic mother, the town’s maximum security prison was a way to keep her seven children in line (“If you don’t behave, I’ll put you in Walpole Prison!").  But as the 1970s brought upheaval to America, and the lines between good and bad blurred, Stanton’s once-solid family lost its way. A promising young girl with a smart mouth, Stanton turns watchful as her parents separate and her now-single mother descends into shoplifting, then grand larceny, anything to keep a toehold in the middle class for her children. No longer scared by threats of Walpole Prison, Stanton too slips into delinquency—vandalism, breaking and entering—all while nearly erasing herself through addiction to angel dust, a homemade form of PCP that swept through her hometown in the wake of Nixon’s “total war” on drugs.Body Leaping Backward is the haunting and beautifully drawn story of a self-destructive girlhood, of a town and a nation overwhelmed in a time of change, and of how life-altering a glimpse of a world bigger than the one we come from can be.        

Body Leaping Backward Details

TitleBody Leaping Backward
Author
ReleaseJul 16th, 2019
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN-139781328900234
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Sociology

Body Leaping Backward Review

  • BlackOxford
    January 1, 1970
    Bourgeois Boomer BluesSexual intercourse beganIn nineteen sixty-three(which was rather late for me) -Between the end of the "Chatterley" banAnd the Beatles' first LP.Up to then there'd only beenA sort of bargaining,A wrangle for the ring,A shame that started at sixteenAnd spread to everything.Then all at once the quarrel sank:Everyone felt the same,And every life becameA brilliant breaking of the bank,A quite unlosable game.So life was never better thanIn nineteen sixty-three(Though just too lat Bourgeois Boomer BluesSexual intercourse beganIn nineteen sixty-three(which was rather late for me) -Between the end of the "Chatterley" banAnd the Beatles' first LP.Up to then there'd only beenA sort of bargaining,A wrangle for the ring,A shame that started at sixteenAnd spread to everything.Then all at once the quarrel sank:Everyone felt the same,And every life becameA brilliant breaking of the bank,A quite unlosable game.So life was never better thanIn nineteen sixty-three(Though just too late for me) -Between the end of the "Chatterley" banAnd the Beatles' first LP. Annus Mirabilis Philip Larkin, 1967Larkin was right. Something happened to culture, and not just British, in the 1960’s, “Between the end of the ‘Chatterley’ ban and the Beatles' first LP” is a reasonable poetic approximation. And it wasn’t just attitudes towards sex and the other things that sociologists, as well as poets, think about that changed. There was a social revolution within the family itself that redefined what it meant to its members and how it worked. For many years I thought these changes were peculiar to my family and were too idiosyncratic (and embarrassing) to consider seriously. Stanton’s memoir provides some stunning insights which prod not just my memory but my judgment about the generality of my own experiences.Like Stanton, I was brought up in a large American Catholic family (seven children in hers, six in mine). Both our sets of parents had escaped from respectable but decided urban poverty to relative suburban luxury (hers outside Boston, mine outside New York City). We even both had substantial prisons housed nearby (hers state, mine county). Stanton’s descriptions of the trivial routines and rituals of this new middle-middle class life must be familiar to most members of my generational cohort - weekly church attendance, involvement in the local community events and celebrations, the ‘unchallenging’ (read: non-existent) cultural scene, and the typical entertainments of insipid network television, drive-in movies, backyard pools, and the beach. In short, a caricature of itself as a life of the ‘long 1950’s.’Where we differ is that I was the eldest in my family while Stanton was a middle child. This is significant because, as we both experienced, the social changes which took place occurred within this generation not between this generation and its parents. The parents were as much involved in these changes as their children. The older siblings ended up as the adults their parents might have been if they had maintained a sort of cultural continuity. The parents themselves simply stopped behaving and believing as they had been. And the younger siblings made what have come to be called unusual ‘life style choices.’ There was less a generation gap than a fusion (or confusion perhaps) of generations.*Stanton describes this process of familial reformulation from the perspective of the middle of the pack; I experienced it from the vanguard. But the pieces fit like parts of a jigsaw puzzle. There is a before and after which are as definite as Larkin’s description. Before was a family system of clear patriarchal hierarchy, the discipline of which was maintained by the threat of physical violence which was administered by the resident male but directed by the female. Relations among family members were established competitively but were always subservient to the relationships among the parents and other adults. The community of adults was supreme.This implicit structure established a sort of extreme familial vulnerability to the community. It kept the family in check and prevented it from the extremes to which it was tempted. One’s family was not just one’s own business. How one’s children acted and how parents acted in response to criticism of their children’s actions was of paramount importance. One way in which this was signalled to the community at large was church attendance, the equivalent perhaps of the Dutch Calvinist tradition of keeping one’s curtains open in the evening. Trivial misdemeanours, much less authentic crimes were scandals sufficient to rouse community attention and righteous comment. So they rarely occurred.For good or ill, this was the middle class Paradise I left to go to university in 1965. From conversations with my next younger brother who started university two years later, it appears that his experience is similar, although strains were even then beginning to appear in the fabric of suburban existence. And progressively each of my siblings seems to have inhabited an increasingly strange universe. By the time I finished university in 1969, no one in the family any longer attended church services; my mother was working; my father was still in the picture but almost never at home during waking hours; one sister was living in a tree house somewhere in the mid-West; the other was involved with an abusive partner; one brother was about to drop out of high school; and another was on the verge of being wanted by police in three states for armed robbery. All the younger ones were involved to some extent with drugs.Clearly there are any number of sociological explanations for such a dramatic transformation. Quite apart from the psychological imbalances that were undoubtedly present (I always knew all the rest were crazy), there were enormous social upheavals underway - the profound changes in the Catholic Church, the war in Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement, economic recession... and oh yes the contraceptive pill. But none of these can account for the speed and depth of transformation I observed. Whatever was the root cause of the family reshuffle was internally generated not externally created. And although it was self-generated, it was simultaneously self-generated by other similar families in similar places. It is my hypothesis that the family succumbed not to the unexpected changes that arrived with the 1960’s but to the very conscious construction of the environment of the past-WWII suburb which was meant to foster it. These places were communities only in the sense that there were numbers of people living in some proximity to each other. Their participation with each other in joint projects and services was expected to establish something like a Jeffersonian self-regulating society of mutual regard. And this seemed to occur, but for a very short time only. Without ‘natural’ or historical ties, this sort of artificial neighbourliness is simply tedious, especially when more and more urgent headlines draw attention way from the vague dream of independence within a caring community.So my guess is that it is not the deterioration of family that caused the collapse that Stanton and I experienced. It is is the absence of authentic community on which the family depends for its existence that is the driving force, or rather the driving vacuum, to which the family relationships succumbed. The centerless, soulless, cultureless collections of economically and racially homogenous family groups which were really only concerned with their own health and welfare are not sustainable as communities and induce an adaptation in the participating families that appear less than functional.And here is a thought about the implication of that adaptation: The right-wing political reaction that has been growing in America for decades and that has culminated first in the Tea Party and then in Trumpism is primarily a reflection of this planned destruction of community through these faux suburban expanses. These are inhabited by disappointed people. The world has not worked out as planned. They want the rewards, the family, the community, the world they have hoped. They feel cheated. The fact that they continue, fifty years on, to build and inhabit the same kind of maladaptive, idealised but unsustainable, communities is not something they really want to consider.*I am reminded of the wonderful British comedy series (and film), Absolutely Fabulous with Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley which features just this kind of generational confusion.
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  • Nancy Carty Lepri
    January 1, 1970
    I have reviewed this book for New York Journal of Books where it will be posted on the site the evening before the publication date. Body Leaping Backward: Memoir of a Delinquent Girlhood by Maureen StantonHoughton Mifflin HarcourtJuly 16, 201910-1328900231MemoirMany young teens turn rebellious as they grow up. They're trying to gain their own individuality to become independent, and many times they do this by bucking the system. This is the situation Maureen Stanton faced. Born in 1960 and one I have reviewed this book for New York Journal of Books where it will be posted on the site the evening before the publication date. Body Leaping Backward: Memoir of a Delinquent Girlhood by Maureen StantonHoughton Mifflin HarcourtJuly 16, 201910-1328900231MemoirMany young teens turn rebellious as they grow up. They're trying to gain their own individuality to become independent, and many times they do this by bucking the system. This is the situation Maureen Stanton faced. Born in 1960 and one of seven siblings, she and her family lived in Walpole, Massachusetts, a small town south of Boston known for its maximum security prison. Every time they drove by the facility, Maureen's mom would comment that unless the children behaved themselves, they would end up sequestered behind the high concrete walls topped with barbed wire. Maybe she thought this would keep them in line.For some reason, the prison fascinated Maureen. "The prison reminded me of the castle we visited in France, in the Loire Valley, where we lived for two years when my father worked on computer systems for the military . . . "At that castle is where they got lost and locked in a room until a guard discovered and freed them after an half an hour. ". . . For years after I had dreams of wandering in the castle, the damp stone walls, those tall wooden doors. When my mother said, 'If you're not good, I'll put you in Walpole Prison,' I envisioned the castle in France."Maureen displayed ambivalence toward her deeply religious, Catholic mother. Too young to understand the tenets of the religion, Maureen questioned going to confession. "I realized that no one checked whether you said the prayers, or said them right. The church used the honor system. Why did the priest trust someone he knew to be a sinner, someone who regularly—every Saturday!—arrived with a fresh litany of sins? Did he really think this person, this incorrigible recidivist person, was to be trusted carrying out her own penance? I must not have believed in God, or else I'd have worried that He was watching. Could I have been agnostic at the age of seven, eight? Instead of repenting, I kneeled at the altar for a certain amount of time, studying the intricate frescoes, Jesus on the cross, nails pounded into his living flesh, the ignominy of hanging alongside two thieves, his slow, agonizing, cotton-mouthed miserable death."When Maureen turned 12 and her parents separated, things fell apart. Not long after, her mom, a strong proponent of the Ten Commandments began shoplifting. Could she be doing this due to lack of money? Maureen, embarrassed by her mom's actions saw this as a case of "do as I say, not as I do," and she, too, took up the act. In 1975, at age 15, Maureen developed a sudden overwhelming depression. She cried constantly without understanding why. Two visits to a psychiatrist did not help so she refused to return. Before long, Maureen became incorrigible. Stealing from local stores, as well as drinking, she smoked marijuana and other drugs then escalated to angel dust on a daily basis. She tried any and all substances, and one can wonder, did she hope to self medicate the depression, use this as retribution for her parents' split and the fact that her overworked and overstressed mother did not have time for her, or was this "normal" teenage angst and hormones? Where she had once been a superior student and quite popular, Maureen's world spun out of control. The friends she associated with yearned for "thrills" no matter how dangerous or illegal their actions. Though Maureen did not actually commit a crime, being in the presence of those who had, made her liable. Hardly ever home, she stayed out most nights, and when her mom was away for the weekend, her home became party central where it often got trashed by other teenagers out of control. "I didn't see my family as broken, but it was true. Broken was the perfect word to describe what happened to my family when my parents separated; we splintered like a mirror dropped to the floor, the whole broken into individual units." Maureen's recklessness began at a young age, especially her mother's threats of being incarcerated for wrongdoing. Did the prison, along with Norfolk, a minimum-security penitentiary in the next town, Pondville, a state-run cancer hospital, and Wrentham and Medfield State Mental Hospitals in close proximity to her home incite Maureen's imagination?This was the era of the assassinations of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Bobby Kennedy, the upsurge in Vietnam, Nixon's war on drugs, hippies, bra burnings, protests, and free love. It's no wonder some of the younger generation went to the extremes. Morals and norms were shifting quickly, and the country was in chaos. Walpole, MA, and the surrounding areas are very aptly described during that time, and the emotions, not just that the teens experienced, but also Maureen's parents demonstrate how difficult times and circumstances were. Maureen states: "Sometimes I wonder how I survived those high school years, how I wasn't maimed or killed the hundreds of time I got into car with people so fucked up they could barely stay in the lane, or by getting behind the wheel of a car myself after drinking, smoking pot or angel dust, taking speed or acid. Worse, I might have hurt or killed someone else. I could have been raped by strangers with whom I hitched a ride, or by boys on whose couches or in whole cars I passed out."One can only empathize with young Maureen, and it would be no surprise if many of her contemporaries suffered the same disillusion as she. To open up and share her story with others must have been difficult, but also cathartic for her with the hope it helps other youngsters who feel alone and disenchanted with their lives.
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  • Cori
    January 1, 1970
    This book was read by my bookclub and it brought up interesting conversation. All of us learned something about Angel Dust/PCP and how much it influenced the community in Walpole where Maureen grew up. The story of Maureen's childhood brought up fun memories and conversation for us to discuss from parenting philosophies to our high school experiences (which all were thankfully different than this book!). Overall it painted a very good picture of what life was like in the 70s and the diary entrie This book was read by my bookclub and it brought up interesting conversation. All of us learned something about Angel Dust/PCP and how much it influenced the community in Walpole where Maureen grew up. The story of Maureen's childhood brought up fun memories and conversation for us to discuss from parenting philosophies to our high school experiences (which all were thankfully different than this book!). Overall it painted a very good picture of what life was like in the 70s and the diary entries and the music/song references throughout. The Walpole prison played a big role in the life in the community for Maureen and we wished there had been more about that in the story. The mom was the character that most of us could relate to the most and enjoyed the most (as well as who the book was dedicated to). Although she seemed overwhelmed and we found her a bit clueless as to Maureen's lifestyle we found her the most likable (and creative at times). Who brings a roast to the beach!?!? So fun!Maureen touches upon her academic successes and athletic abilities but we wanted to hear more about that and more about her family interactions. We know her siblings were an important part of her growing up and we craved more about the bonds (good and bad) with siblings and more of those experiences in the book.The final thing we discussed was how as parents we could be more aware of our children when they are in high school. Maureen mentioned her mom's biggest concern in high school was unplanned pregnancy and so mom seemed unaware of the drugs her daughter was taking. Life has changed so much since we were children with technology, cellphones, e-cigaraettes, etc. and so as parents we want to make sure we are staying ahead of the challenges for our children to support them. Maureen had an interesting childhood and using her diaries to write the book with a unique story in the 70s and it was a good read overall.Thank you to The BookClub Cookbook galley match program as well as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishing for the opportunity for my entire book club to read this book!
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  • Kasa Cotugno
    January 1, 1970
    I was reminded of Light Years, Chris Rush's excellent memoir. Both Stanton and Rush came from Catholic backgrounds with many siblings in families that imploded, and both overcame teenage extravagances to realize their potential as first rate artists. Of course the details were different, but I was struck more by the similarities of the era and how the 1960's and '70's, an age when many of us were raising our own families under the same pressures, affected these two talented people and their resp I was reminded of Light Years, Chris Rush's excellent memoir. Both Stanton and Rush came from Catholic backgrounds with many siblings in families that imploded, and both overcame teenage extravagances to realize their potential as first rate artists. Of course the details were different, but I was struck more by the similarities of the era and how the 1960's and '70's, an age when many of us were raising our own families under the same pressures, affected these two talented people and their respective redemption.
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    Maureen Stanton's memoir Body Leaping Backward: Memoir of a Delinquent Girlhood is the story of the trials and tribulations of growing up in Walpole, Massachusetts in the 1970s. Overall this is an engaging, well told memoir, with an amazing sense of place (as a person who grew up in Massachusetts, I especially appreciated the shout-out to Building 19!) Though, honestly, I expected this memoir to be a bit more dramatic, (see the author's addiction to Angel Dust, her short career as a petty crimin Maureen Stanton's memoir Body Leaping Backward: Memoir of a Delinquent Girlhood is the story of the trials and tribulations of growing up in Walpole, Massachusetts in the 1970s. Overall this is an engaging, well told memoir, with an amazing sense of place (as a person who grew up in Massachusetts, I especially appreciated the shout-out to Building 19!) Though, honestly, I expected this memoir to be a bit more dramatic, (see the author's addiction to Angel Dust, her short career as a petty criminal, the ever looming specter of Walpole Prison), it all just sort of washes over you like a drug-addled dream of the 1970s, with no real drama, no real consequences. The most interesting facet of this book is the idea of a life lived in the shadow of Walpole prison. What does that mean for the identity of a town? For a young person? And while I appreciate Stanton's struggle, the fact that she was able to overcome so many obstacles and create a successful life for herself, it would have been nice to see a bit more awareness of the privilege that kept her out of the prison system. On the whole, this was a really enjoyable read. Though I suspect it will resonate most with readers who have some knowledge of the area in the 1970s, I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys memoirs about delinquent girls, and their ability to rise from the ashes of their own destruction. FULL DISCLOSURE: I received an ARC of this book from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • E.j. Levy
    January 1, 1970
    Brilliant and hilarious and heartbreaking, Body Leaping Backward is a book to savor. Timely and timeless both, Stanton's memoir of coming of age in a prison town chronicles a childhood undone by loss and drugs and the long journey home. Luminous and moving, Stanton's book speaks to our current drug crisis and to anyone who has had a family.
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  • Anthony Connolly
    January 1, 1970
    Really, Maureen Stanton should be dead.Or behind bars.To be honest, it’s surprising she made it out of the Vietnam War-Bomb-Scare-Watergate 70s riding a delinquent crest of the second wave of feminism.Stanton should have beached or burned out. She was a scapegrace on PCP, bound for an early obituary. But no, today Stanton's very much alive and she’s one of the leading lights of creative nonfiction prose in America. The professor of the art at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell is the author Really, Maureen Stanton should be dead.Or behind bars.To be honest, it’s surprising she made it out of the Vietnam War-Bomb-Scare-Watergate 70s riding a delinquent crest of the second wave of feminism.Stanton should have beached or burned out. She was a scapegrace on PCP, bound for an early obituary. But no, today Stanton's very much alive and she’s one of the leading lights of creative nonfiction prose in America. The professor of the art at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell is the author of Killer Stuff and Tons of Money, as well as this new engaging memoir. The memoir Body Leaping Backward is her singular story of the all too familiar situation -- those awkward and dangerous high school years. It was all about growing up, wanting to get the hell out of the 1970s American suburbia nightmare by any means necessary."Sometimes I wonder how I survived those high school years, how I wasn't maimed or killed the hundreds of times I got into cars with people so fucked up they could barely stay in the lane, or by getting behind the wheel of a car myself after drinking, smoking pot or angel dust, taking speed or acid. Worse, I might have hurt or killed someone else. I could have been raped by strangers with whom I hitched a ride, or by boys on whose couches or in whose cars I passed out... I know girls who weren't as lucky..."Stanton got out of the 70s, many didn't. After the Love Generation hooked up, and began to have children of their own, their children—Maureen, her siblings and all of their friends—came upon a deeply broken country, one only too eager to hide the fissures, and brutally, systematically suppress democratic and personal liberties. The strain was too much.Marriages ended. Maureen's parents split, divorced.Children took to the streets. Stanton and her friends smoked PCP or angel dust, took speed, acid, drank and engaged in petty crimes.Students spoke out. Maureen stood up for women saying whatever boys could do girls could do, in class and in her short career as a thief. Teachers, friends and her family called Maureen, "Loudmouth. Smart aleck. Back-talker. Fresh." Yet, all around her, change continued its tectonic tutelage writ small and large. Maddeningly persistent. Numbing the pain meant finding means of escape. Drugs of course. Petty theft. Shoplifting.Fast cars. Maureen—fortunately or unfortunately— lived where it was clear one couldn’t color outside the lines for long. The State was watching. Maureen’s playground was a prison town: Walpole, Massachusetts. The prison was a tactile reminder. Its lore a synecdoche for strays. Like Maureen whose mother would admonish with dire warning of being imprisoned there: Be good or else. So goes America so goes Maureen. So went the 70s. It was a penopticon.Slowly, she pried herself from the vortex, gradually pulling others down those left and right of her, and through counseling, a steady job and a few mentors along the way, Maureen was able to survive and thrive. Stanton went on to get university degrees and has been a prominent writer ever since. Writing this book allowed her to review her younger self, something we all tend to do, and in the end forgive that person their transgressions. Highly recommended.
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  • Carolyn
    January 1, 1970
    I’m grateful to Maureen Stanton for Body Leaping Backward - Memoir of a Delinquent Girlhood. I, too, grew up in Walpole, Massachusetts, though am younger than Maureen and did not know her personally. However, we moved through the same north Walpole neighborhoods, attended the same schools, had many of the same teachers, and witnessed the same surge in drugs in suburbia during the 1970s. Stanton’s ability to capture the dangerous and grim dark edges of the town is absolutely on the mark. She cour I’m grateful to Maureen Stanton for Body Leaping Backward - Memoir of a Delinquent Girlhood. I, too, grew up in Walpole, Massachusetts, though am younger than Maureen and did not know her personally. However, we moved through the same north Walpole neighborhoods, attended the same schools, had many of the same teachers, and witnessed the same surge in drugs in suburbia during the 1970s. Stanton’s ability to capture the dangerous and grim dark edges of the town is absolutely on the mark. She courageously examines the sadness and separateness of her adolescence, and accompanies the reader to demystify her string of desperate choices. Although now compassionate toward her young self, Stanton offers no excuses here: during her drug-driven years, she put herself and others in danger, caused heartache for her family, and day after day she broke laws that were meaningless to her. Much was meaningless to Maureen due to her regular use of angel dust, a numbing street drug that leaves its users feeling burnt out and empty. The steps that Stanton took to turn her life around, to save herself from permanent ruin or an untimely death, are presented not as heroic or exotic, but as a mix of hard work and luck. This truth is as plainly yet vibrantly presented as her detailed descriptions of neighbors, classrooms, clothing, bosses, churches, small businesses, and teen hangouts, the mundane that compose the life of children, but also flood our memories when we look back in time. These scenes and moments made up her Walpole childhood and mine. Stanton adds to the telling with history and analysis of sociological phenomena including the Massachusetts drug market, trends in crime and incarceration, and divorce. She deftly unpacks the journey of a teenage girl who pursued, unsuccessfully, “everything from the sixties that we didn’t know was already gone.” What she found, in the end, was the existence of a core self that had survived the drugs and risks and loss. What we are now able to glimpse is a healed survivor who brings an honesty to her writing that sets an important bar.
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  • kelly
    January 1, 1970
    "Body Leaping Backward" is a memoir of Maureen Stanton's life growing up in the mid-70's in a working class family in Walpole, Massachusetts. Throughout the book, the shadow of the maximum security prison in the area looms large, in both the author's mind and in the warnings her mother gives her to behave herself, lest she end up on the inside of the gates. For the first several years of her life, Stanton grows up in a happy home with her six siblings. Around 11 or 12, her parents divorce amicab "Body Leaping Backward" is a memoir of Maureen Stanton's life growing up in the mid-70's in a working class family in Walpole, Massachusetts. Throughout the book, the shadow of the maximum security prison in the area looms large, in both the author's mind and in the warnings her mother gives her to behave herself, lest she end up on the inside of the gates. For the first several years of her life, Stanton grows up in a happy home with her six siblings. Around 11 or 12, her parents divorce amicably and thus begins the family's slide toward poverty, dysfunction, drugs, and criminal behavior. Stanton's mother, left with 7 children to raise, begins to steal food from local grocery stores. Maureen becomes depressed, the confusion of which leads her into taking drugs, mostly angel dust. A significant amount of the book details her drug use, which come to an end right around the time she finishes high school. Although she commits many petty crimes during this period, Stanton never actually spends time in Walpole Prison. She credits her turn away from a destructive life to counseling and positive friendships with non-drug users.This book has some interesting parts. In addition to details about her childhood, Stanton writes extensively about what the suburban drug culture was like in 70's-era Massachusetts and feeds in informational tidbits about the War on Drugs, Walpole prison and its famous inmates, and other things. There are also her personal diary entries throughout the narrative, which read like some angry girl manifesto. Unfortunately, none of this ever really gels into a cohesive, consistent narrative. The overall pacing is slow, and the sections where I wanted details there were few (i.e., like where her parents were during all this drug use) and where I didn't want details there were many (i.e., the family's installation of backyard pool). Also absent from this book was any kind of discussion about the external forces that really kept Stanton and her family out of prison--namely, their socioeconomic status and race. She lists all the "crimes committed" during the time period in the appendix, yet fails to mention the obvious fact that had she been a few shades darker and living within the Boston inner-city limits, she would have undoubtedly served time in jail and/or prison. It would have been inevitable. All in all, this book is just ok for me. [Note: Thanks to Edelweiss for a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.]
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    Perfectly captures that weird razor's edge of adolescence, the place and the time. Written in a deceptively simple way that rings true and effortlessly pulls you in before you know it. Definitely not a hazy nostalgic all happy in the end story, and quite possibly one of the best memoirs I've ever read.
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  • Seth Ruderman
    January 1, 1970
    Unbelievable. Raw, honest...one of the best memoirs I've rever read.
  • Tracy
    January 1, 1970
    I don’t know what potion this author has in her back pocket, but I have never read a memoir that so accurately recalls not only the time of adolescent finding of one’s voice, purpose, and self, but also the raw emotions of fear, anger and darkness that tend to envelop these painful years. Ms. Stanton’s laid bare memories of her childhood and especially sophomore and junior years as an individual hungry to leave her current state are brutally honest and haunting. The beautiful extended metaphor o I don’t know what potion this author has in her back pocket, but I have never read a memoir that so accurately recalls not only the time of adolescent finding of one’s voice, purpose, and self, but also the raw emotions of fear, anger and darkness that tend to envelop these painful years. Ms. Stanton’s laid bare memories of her childhood and especially sophomore and junior years as an individual hungry to leave her current state are brutally honest and haunting. The beautiful extended metaphor of living in a town known for its prison while experiencing her own personal emotional incarceration (middle child in a family of seven children and product of divorced parents in the early 1970s when such things were the ultimate social taboo) weaves seamlessly throughout the book without feeling forced. Instead of looking on the past with hazy nostalgia, this author reveals what it was like to be a teenage girl in the 1970s whose drive was to be true to self—heart wrenching mistakes and all. How wonderful she chose to share this with the rest of us!
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  • Rita H
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsunflinchingly honest-- also depressing-- but it's true life, so...recommended for fans of true coming-of-age and women's memoirs
  • Bex Wiles
    January 1, 1970
    Body Leaping Backwards is a gritty memoir about a teenager growing up in Walpole with the shadow of the prison looming over her. It is an interesting read for giving some context about what drug culture was like in the 70s and how it permeated normal life. The author drip feeds in cultural information about famous Walpole prison inmates and how PCP affected well-known people in American society. Nonetheless, though it has some very interesting parts, not much actually happens in this text: the a Body Leaping Backwards is a gritty memoir about a teenager growing up in Walpole with the shadow of the prison looming over her. It is an interesting read for giving some context about what drug culture was like in the 70s and how it permeated normal life. The author drip feeds in cultural information about famous Walpole prison inmates and how PCP affected well-known people in American society. Nonetheless, though it has some very interesting parts, not much actually happens in this text: the author's childhood is described, then her parents go through a relatively amicable divorce - the sadness of which pushes her into an adolescence of taking a lot of drugs. At times it felt a bit self-indulgent with the fairly conventional aspects of childhood being described in great amounts of detail. I think it would have benefitted from being a bit shorter. Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced copy of this text in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Net Galley I received a digital advanced copy of Body Leaping Backward: Memoir of a Delinquent Childhood. I learned a lot about PCP, angel dust, and drug culture of the 1970’s. I know how easy marijuana was to get in the 1980’s in suburbia but I had no idea what other drugs were readily available especially in the 1970’s before the Just Say No campaign and the “War on Drugs.” I am now a mother of teenage daughters which gave me a different perspective; at times wanted to shake Maureen, Thanks to Net Galley I received a digital advanced copy of Body Leaping Backward: Memoir of a Delinquent Childhood. I learned a lot about PCP, angel dust, and drug culture of the 1970’s. I know how easy marijuana was to get in the 1980’s in suburbia but I had no idea what other drugs were readily available especially in the 1970’s before the Just Say No campaign and the “War on Drugs.” I am now a mother of teenage daughters which gave me a different perspective; at times wanted to shake Maureen, smack her, and hug her. I rooted for and her friends and family. This is a heart wrenching story of what happened when parents divorced at a time when it wasn’t common and when there weren’t the resources there are now. It was also interesting the impact a prison had on the community just by being there.Overall this is well worth reading!
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  • Sandra Miller
    January 1, 1970
    I read a review copy of this memoir, and it is stunning. Stanton's writing here is probing, smart, lyrical, and, in places, hysterically funny. Her story about growing up in a large Irish family in the 1970s in the shadows of Walpole Prison will appeal to anyone who lived through that decade or is interested in the strangeness of what went on in those years. Stanton captures the craziness of the times--yes there's sex and drug and rock 'n' roll--but the more powerful story is her grappling with I read a review copy of this memoir, and it is stunning. Stanton's writing here is probing, smart, lyrical, and, in places, hysterically funny. Her story about growing up in a large Irish family in the 1970s in the shadows of Walpole Prison will appeal to anyone who lived through that decade or is interested in the strangeness of what went on in those years. Stanton captures the craziness of the times--yes there's sex and drug and rock 'n' roll--but the more powerful story is her grappling with issues of coming of age in such a strange time and place.
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