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Prairie Silence: A Memoir Hardcover – January 8, 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In this affecting memoir, Hoffert proves that while you can indeed go home again, it will, of course, never be quite the same. A true child of the prairie, she grew up on a farm in North Dakota, experiencing, as many of her generational peers, a love-hate relationship with the vast, stark terrain and the decaying small towns that characterize the contemporary plains states. Despite her affinity with her childhood home, her essential need to escape was made more acute by the fact that she recognized, at an early age, that she was gay. Still, the literal and metaphorical prairie silence eventually drew her home for a monthlong stay at harvest time, “because eventually to resolve everything, to truly find peace, you must come to terms with the place your inner soul calls home.“ A heartfelt coming-out story as well as an eloquent elegy to a rural way of life that is rapidly vanishing from the American landscape. --Margaret Flanagan

Review

“A heartfelt coming-out story as well as an eloquent elegy to a rural way of life that is rapidly vanishing from the American landscape.” —Booklist
 
“In Prairie Silence, Melanie Hoffert shows how the landscapes of our childhood continue to speak to us, and through us, long after we’ve left them behind. In this beautifully written and deeply imagined memoir, Hoffert invites us back to her North Dakota farming community for a season of harvest, a personal journey of profound courage and grace.” —Judy Blunt, author of Breaking Clean
 
“Hoffert’s bittersweet and compelling memoir recalls her struggles at ending her silence and creating a fuller life for herself. She illuminates the quiet grace of the people and land she loves and mourns the passing of a way of life.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“The quiet, lyric prose of Melanie Hoffert’s Prairie Silence crept into my days, making it impossible for me to stop turning pages. This book is about looking for oneself in places we are so often afraid to venture. A beautiful debut from a brave new writer.” —Claire Bidwell Smith, author of The Rules of Inheritance
 
“This is a gorgeous book that evokes quiet country mornings and loud self-examination. . . . If you once believed that you can’t truly ever go home again, Prairie Silence is a book you’ll be eager to read.” –Washington Blade
 
“A heartfelt love song to a place and its people as well as an honest and rewarding rendering of the author’s interior landscape.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
“Hoffert’s intimate memoir of place reveals a personal journey both fraught and wondrous, and a present reality of surprising richness.” —Patricia Weaver Francisco, author of Telling
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (January 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807044733
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807044735
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,329,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The lead for this memoir is about a gay woman coming out to her home town, which terrifies her. First I need to say that I am not gay but in reading further into the description I saw that Melanie was a farm girl, as I am. She grew up in rural (way rural) North Dakota where the nature of people was their deep connection to the land and to each other as good neighbors, but not interfering with each others lives. Like the black hills or darkness there was a certain silence. Once she had left the farm, as droves of others for the city, she was often quizzed about her roots, "Really? North Dakota?" people would smirk or make another weird remark as much about the farm as ND. She felt the need to defend it (mine was rural Ohio and believe me the experience has been the same...made me laugh).

In any case, this many year journey takes the reader on a weave of Melanie trying to align her home town values, religion (OMG who won't identify with the judgment there), her confusion and guilt about her sexuality (again, many laughs), and what people will make of her.

The writing is tight, characters well drawn complete with their backgrounds (just enough), feelings and motives. In some sense the poignancy is how guarded the writer is in the beginning which aligns with the title. Don't know if it was intentional or not but it resonated with me. I enjoyed the read, shed a few tears, especially at the ending. Well done!
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Format: Hardcover
Prairie Silence made me laugh, cry, nod my head, long for my home, and left me with a feeling of sadness for Ms. Hoffert and everyone else who has to hide their true self from those they love and care about. Many of us hide a piece of ourselves from others. Ms. Hoffert's courage in writing this book is not lost on me, and I have great respect for her. By writing this book, she has exposed her complete self to her hometown, and they will either wrap their arms around her and let her know she is welcomed and loved as her true self, OR not...

I grew up in that same small town. Ms. Hoffert captured it so well with her words, and I am pleased. I have lived in other parts of the country and world for 24 years, and I long for that same prairie every day. I was so happy to see that I'm not the only one who sees our piece of flat prairie as a place of beauty. It is very difficult to explain to others why it is so appealing. We don't have mountains, an ocean, or bustling city streets with a variety of entertainment from others. What we have is a beautiful peacefulness. People who are the salt of the earth. A place we can always call home, and people who remember us no matter how long we've been gone.

Ms. Hoffert's writing flows in a way that draws the reader into her world to experience her feelings as she shares the events of her life. I found it difficult to put the book down, and I finished it in two days...only because I had to go to work in the middle of it! I have gained a new understanding and empathy for those who struggle with their sexuality and try to reconcile it with their faith. I pray that Ms. Hoffert has opened people's minds, as she has mine.

As others have written, anyone who reads this book will come away with a lesson learned and an understanding of something that you will be able to apply to your own life in some way.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Melanie Hoffert has created a thoughtful and gentle portrayal of a disappearing way of life. What shines through is her love and understanding of the rural North Dakota landscape and the people that inhabit it and make their living in its small towns and farms. As Melanie poignantly describes the struggles of realizing she was in some way different than others growing up in her small town, her honest memoir paves the way for all of us who have ever felt separate or different for any reason. This is a book that made me laugh and cry, but I felt like a better human being just for having read it. Bravo, Melanie Hoffert, for allowing the four-year old Melanie's revelation in a tree to bubble up through the ancient Lake Agassiz, beyond silence. Also, as a former public librarian, I would recommend this for all school and public library collections.
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Format: Hardcover
I got home after a wonderful evening listening to this beautiful author read her life story and knew I needed to get the book.
What an amazing woman, and it honestly it is the BEST BOOK I have ever read.
I can say I have never read a book as fast as Prairie Silence: A Memoir. Once, I opened the cover I could not set it down.
I cried, giggled and cried some more. It was the most beautiful, heartfelt & honest book I have read.
I hope that it will touch everyone the way it touched me. I hope it opens the eyes of those who do not understand the war, internally people go through to find who they truly are. I commend you for being an amazing woman. Thank you Melanie for putting your heart and soul out in the book, for being a model to those who do not have the words or ability to say what they wish they could.
Ready for book number 2.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wonderful writer with amazing descriptors. I have grown up in ND since I was 4. She is spot on in her description of ND life and what can happen with family secrets in small town ND. Even the largest town is a small town. I commend her for her ability to create her path in life, and her talent for describing it to the world. I will be watching for her writing in the future.
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