Winner, 2021 Housatonic Book Award
Finalist for the Publishing Triangle's Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction
You have a history, and a body. You are a history, and a body. Your body has (is) a history, too. As a girl, Julie Marie Wade was uninterested in makeup, boy-watching, and other trappings of conventional girlhood, much to her mother’s disappointment. Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe—movie stars immortalized as feminine ideals, even as they both died tragically and young—were lodestars that threw Wade’s own definition of beauty into relief as she stumbled into adulthood.
Now, in Just an Ordinary Woman Breathing, Wade traces the intimate story of coming of age in one particular body (as a lesbian, an only child, a Protestant attending Catholic school). She uses the language and tenets of music, math, religion, fairy tales, poetry, and art to reckon with the many facets of embodiment, sexuality, and love in our contemporary world. The diet industry, popular culture, and her own family all provide rich material for what is ultimately a lyrical and unflinching investigation into the questions that prickle deep within the human heart.