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Mail-Order Kid: An Orphan Train Rider's Story Paperback – May 6, 2010
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About the Author
Hi! Just so you know, my books and poems are either nice--or naughty. My nice books are histories of the truly amazing Great Plains, including the Orphan Trains and county seat wars. Sex rears its head in my naughty works. Plus I think I should tell you that I'm a personal writer. I don't write much that doesn't have an intimate feeling to it, that isn't centered, in some way, on my history. My life began in Alma, a tiny town in south central Nebraska, where I was born and raised. As I lay in bed, listening to my mother read me to sleep, I fell in love with words. Mom read oodles of books to me. My favorite was "The Farm Twins" by Lucy Fitch Perkins. When I turned eleven years old, I decided to be a writer.
At twenty-one, I graduated from the University of Nebraska with a journalism degree. Then I read Jack Kerouac's "On the Road." Struck with the travel bug, I set out, saw Denver, New Orleans, San Diego, Portland, and New York. I lived in New York City for thirty years, where I taught writing at Pratt Institute, and earned a degree in creative writing from Brooklyn College.
Now I'm back in Nebraska, located in Omaha. I'm a retired professor doing what I love best: writing full time. When I'm not pounding away at my computer, I can usually be found reading, pulling weeds, talking to my cat, or hanging out with my partner, Jack Loscutoff, also a writer. I have become an award winning and internationally published writer of poetry and prose who has written six books, six hundred poems, and hundreds of articles and stories. My awards include a national Pushcart Prize for my poem called "Pricksong," a Master Alumnus award for distinction in writing from the University of Nebraska, and the National Orphan Train Complex's Special President's Award for my biography, Mail-Order Kid. My "naughty" book, Marcella, is the first novel written in English that uses autoeroticism as its main theme. My writing has appeared in Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, India, and Japan.
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This book covers the story of one woman named Theresa from her young childhood in the Foundling Home in New York, to her transport from New York to Kansas at the tender age of three. The good news is she lived a good long life, but the poignancy of her childhood years until young adulthood went straight to my heart. It's a portrait of resiliency, spirit and a need to survive all the insults sent Theresa's way.Her name changes alone were significant:(Jess)Theresa Feit,Bieker,Binder and finally Martin. The journey to meeting with the Orphan Train Society and family,too -remarkable.
Marilyn Coffey did an excellent job researching this story and filling in the gaps to create insight into this woman's life that offered the reader the whole picture - no sob story by any stretch. There was tragedy but Theresa's drive to persevere and surface head held high,was the message that came through again and again.
Theresa, in rare instances, did feel sorry for herself and the poor luck that led to her station in life, but she didn't grieve for long. She triumphed over her tough lot with each new challenge. I couldn't help but like this sharp, strong woman and enjoyed reading the her biography as written by Marilyn Coffey.
The story itself is detailed and very personal. I really credit Teresa for her honesty and depth of memory. I was a little disappointed in the end of the book, though; it felt rushed and loosely tied together. I find this is fairly common with memoirs and biographies, though, so it didn't ruin the book for me.
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