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“Livingston’s prose shines.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“…the language is insanely and beautifully lyrical”

—Los Angeles Review of Books

“Livingston writes with a fierce strength and intelligence that not only makes for compelling reading but an absolutely unforgettable voice.”

—Kristen Iversen, author of Full Body Burden

“This moving and inspirational memoir deserves to find the same popularity as Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle. Told in short vignettes, Sonja Livingston shares what it was like to grow up in poverty in the 1970’s. Educators as well as high school students will find many insights about the strength of the individual spirit.”

—Judith Repman University Press Books

“Livingston writes with an understated restraint and paints her past in careful detail. The result is captivating. Ghostbread is a heartrending encounter with an adept essayist.”


“Deft, evocative, mysterious, heartfelt, swirling, lyrical, with lines that pop off the page and essays that shimmer in your head for days after you finish reading them—or thought you did.”

—Brian Doyle, author of Mink River

“Livingston reveals the daily challenges poverty-stricken young children face. Her thoughtful testimony sheds new light on a tragic predicament that now affects not only lower-income families, but the entire nation.”


“A vibrant and textured creation of women throughout history, some of them famous, others notable for the bravery of their more private lives. Line by line, the writing sings. What a marvelous collection of essays. What a glorious celebration.”

—Lee Martin author of The Bright Forever

A swirling, wise dream of a book, filled with gorgeous writing and a poignant crowd of characters, rescued from the stream of history with ardent insight.

—Harriet Scott Chessman

author of The Beauty of Ordinary Things

“Exquisite in its details and insights, Ghostbread shows us the invisible undersides of poverty. Sonja Livingston renders this so solidly that we come to understand the roots of despair, and the beauty that can be found in the midst of squalor. In an age when memoir exploits the seamier sides of life, thrusting their authors into the limelight, this book holds back, quietly resisting shock value in favor of understanding.”

—Judith Kitchen author of House on Eccles Road

’I know where I came from.’ With this declaration, the author of Ghostbread takes us on a journey through a childhood scarred by poverty and graced by love. Like an American version of Angela’s Ashes, the book allows us to encounter―and see, taste, and smell it―through the eyes of a beleaguered and intelligent child. We are grateful to be reminded of the human reality at the heart of a world that is all too often hidden in governmental ‘poverty indicators,’ and also glad that the author has survived to tell the tale.

—Kathleen Norris author of Acedia & Me

“[A]n absolutely astonishing debut . . . harrowing and hilarious.

—Caroline Leavitt author of Girls in Trouble