On My Own: A Journey from a Mennonite Childhood

Book, 2018, 324 pp
On My Own is a striking, revealing memoir about the force of family expectations and the courage and determination it takes for a young woman to pull free and chart her own course. Hildegard Martens grew up in a Manitoba Mennonite family where her life was to be one of conformity to the church and the domestic realm. She was the youngest of five children whose parents had escaped the brutality and dislocation of the Russian Revolution, and experience that left them traumatized and cast a shadow over their children's lives. With an innate drive for independence, Hildegard found a way to withstand family trauma and cultural and societal constraints and to fashion a self-determined and fulfilling secular life in Toronto. Along the way she earned a doctorate in sociology, worked as a senior economist in government, and chose to raise a son on her own. While Hildegard's powerful story has specific time and cultural markers, the spirit of it is universal and timeless and speaks to all of us who strive to live authentically and fashion meaningful lives on our own terms.

Marjorie Anderson, Co-editor with Carol Shields of the Dropped Threads anthologies

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