Monday morning’s unearthed Americana comes via the airwaves. I feel slightly better about my pastiche-Americana piece for the July writers’ group session.
Radio 4’s book of the week is The Forgotten Girls by Monica Potts, “A gripping and unforgettable story of friendship and lost promise in 21st-century America.”
Episode 1 of this ‘non-fiction novel’ (that’s memoir to you and me) begins with growing up poor in rural Arkansas, dreaming of moving to college in California and becoming a writer…
From the prologue:
“We bounced down unpaved rutted dirt roads and curvy country highways in our Ford LTD station wagon…”
It reads like The Great American Novel but with footnotes and citations for the large chunks of social commentary.
An acclaimed journalist, Monica Potts tries to understand generational cycles of poverty and hardship that continue to blight the lives of rural communities in contemporary America. Returning home to the Ozarks, she reconnects with her childhood friend, Darci.
She finds her talented and brilliant friend homeless, jobless and an addict. Had she stayed in her home town, Monica might have gone down the same path. So begins a journey to find out why the two women’s lives took such different paths.
With the divergence of their lives, the big economic and social questions around education and poverty become personal.