Body Leaping Backward is a stunning memoir about being a child in a tumultuous time. Set in the Suburban Boston town of Walpole, Massachusetts, Stanton recounts growing up with her six siblings in an Irish Catholic family. When she’s eleven, her parents announce they’re getting divorced, setting in motion a chain reaction that leads to Stanton’s downward spiral towards drugs and crime.
I loved this book. It’s so deeply personal and well written. You can feel the teenage angst and rebellion. Stanton paints such an amazing portrait of herself as a lost lonely girl in the 1970s. She focuses on the importance of family and the deep impact of divorce and poverty, without being remotely preachy, just speaking for her experience.
Walpole, famous for its maximum-security prison with the same name, provides quite a unique backdrop. The prison is used as a teaching moment by Stanton’s mother (“If you don’t behave, I’ll put you in Walpole Prison!”). One of the things that really drew me to Body Leaping Backward is that I grew up not far from Walpole in Braintree, Massachusetts. My father grew up in neighboring Westwood. But I genuinely don’t think you need to be from the area to appreciate the stories in this memoir.
I learned so much about criminal justice and the effects of angel dust. Stanton often includes facts about current events in the state of Massachusetts and the rest of the country in relation to her narratives. She uses statistics to illustrate the state of the times, such as the fact that four million people were caught shoplifting in 1980.
Though most of the book is focused on Stanton’s delinquent teenage years, it is very uplifting. As she starts to grow up, she ask for help and is able to turn her life around. It is powerful and moving and definitely one to check out!
Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for a copy in exchange for my honest review!