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Memoir Review  

All the Lost Girls: Confessions of a Southern Daughter
by Patricia Foster
University of Alabama Press, 2000
ISBN:  0-8173-1047-9

At first, I was concerned that this 300 page book would be a cumbersome read. In a tribute to Fosterís ability not only to spin a tale, but her poetic writing, one does not so much turn pages as pass through the days and years of her familyís life.

In an attempt to tell the story of her own life, Patricia Foster quickly discovers that her story does not begin in the 1950ís in Linville, Alabama, but in 1903 in Pickney, Alabama...

All The Lost Girls tells the story of all women, not only Southern white ones. She speaks of the disappointment, embarrassment, sorrow, and desperation that poverty brings.

From her grandmotherís marriage to a ladyís man, her motherís escape from a mining town, Foster relates her own attempts to escape. It is through the telling of her motherís hardships and disappointment, and subsequent vulnerability that she is able to see exactly what she is trying to escape. Who is she trying to please? What wrong is she trying to right? How the mystery of how wrongs of the past perpetrated on her mother and her grandmother have dominated her life is slowly unraveled.

Fosterís words resound the way song lyrics sing. The book reads smoothly. Foster carefully dances through time and place. Taking us strolling in and out of her life, her motherís and her grandmothers. All are inexorably linked. She speaks in all threeís voice. She captures the emotions so precisely is as if she no longer speaks for them ,but becomes these women. She no longer imagines their pain, but is actually feeling their pain. Her portrayal of their emotions and thoughts is uncanny.

All the Lost Girls does not simply retell the tales of her family, but brings the days, dreams, tears and hopes of her familyís past into stunning clarity. Her writing wrings a poetry from the mundane red soil of the Alabama hills that her mother dreamed of leaving. Even the tears cried and uncried slowly break the readerís heart. She calls across ages, races, and borders from the realization that one female is irrelevant, sexual abuse to loveless marriages and a lifetimeís search for self.

Tia Blassingame
Southern Scribe Reviews

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