Great Plains Studies, Center for



Julene Bair

Date of this Version

Summer 2012


Great Plains Quarterly 32:3 (Summer 2012).


Copyright © 2012 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska.


Mary Clearman Blew reports that her "gorge still rises" recalling "the dearth of expectations" held out for her during her remote Montana childhood. In passages reminiscent of Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and Women, we see a smart girl who, to realize her potential, must bring her own volition ruthlessly to bear.

Of course, she is not forgiven for overstepping her bounds. Most critical of her are her husband's parents. When, after marrying at age eighteen, she becomes pregnant within the year, her mother-in-law is triumphant: "I guess this is finally the end of college for you!" Instead, Blew continues putting her education first, even causing her husband to follow her when she enrolls in a PhD program at the University of Missouri.