Author Mary Marantz’s sparkling prose, profound vulnerability, vast compassion, and biblical insights shape her captivating memoir of growing up in poverty in a trailer in the mountains of rural West Virginia, studying in England, and then attending Yale Law School.
Marantz divides her story into two parts—“The Girl in the Trailer” and “The Girl After the Trailer.” Though for years she tried to flee the reality of her childhood, wearing a mask of success, yet feeling broken and ashamed, God pursued her, showing her that she didn’t need to accomplish more to win his unconditional love. Marantz writes about her spiritual journey: “When I look back on my life, I have a decision to make. Will I see only mud on the surface, or will I also see the miracle underneath? Will I believe that all along I was alone in it, that it really was always up to me to do for myself? Or will I believe that Someone else was always there holding my hand? A face that drew close to mine and never once turned away. No matter how far I drifted.”
Marantz’s reflections on her family relationships are deeply painful—her mother left when she was 9 years old—and profoundly loving. Her hardworking, loyal father and practical, warm-hearted grandmother influenced her passion for learning, her joy in nature, her work ethic, and, most importantly, taught her about Jesus.
Marantz’s narrative isn’t a pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps kind of story. Rather, she explains, “For me, this life—dug out and rebuilt from the ground up—has turned out to be much less a story about any kind of success than it is a song of redemption, a reconciliation with the roots that grew me, a melody born out of the muddiest parts of my life. Because as for me and my story ... it always started with dirt.” (Revell)