The Forgotten Girls
A Memoir of Friendship and Lost Promise in Rural America
By: Monica Potts
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 04/18/2022
My Rating: TBR (ARC)
An acclaimed journalist tries to understand how she escaped her small-town in Arkansas while her brilliant friend could not, and, in the process, illuminates the unemployment, drug abuse, sexism and evangelicalism killing poor, rural white women all over America.
Growing up gifted and working-class poor in the foothills of the Ozarks, Monica and Darci became fast friends. The girls bonded over a shared love of reading and learning, even as they navigated the challenges of their declining town and tumultuous family lives—broken marriages, alcohol abuse, and shuttered stores and factories. They pored over the giant map in their middle school classroom, tracing their fingers over the world that awaited them, vowing to escape. In the end, Monica left Clinton for college and fulfilled her dreams, but Darci, along with many in their circle of friends, did not.
Years later, working as a journalist covering poverty, Monica discovered what she already intuitively knew about the women in Arkansas: Their life expectancy had steeply declined—the sharpest such fall in a century. She returned to Clinton to report the story, trying to understand the societal factors driving the disturbing trends in the rural south. As she reconnects with Darci, she finds that her once talented and ambitious best friend is now a statistic: a single mother of two, addicted to meth and prescription drugs, jobless and nearly homeless. Painfully aware that Darci's fate could have been hers, she retraces the moments of decision and chance in each of their lives that led such similar women toward two such different destinies.
About the Author
© Beth Hall Photography LLC
Monica Potts is a writer who returned to her hometown in northern Arkansas to work on a book, forthcoming from Penguin Random House. She is a former fellow with the New America Foundation. She writes about a variety of subjects, including poverty, politics, and culture. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The New Republic, The American Prospect, New York magazine, Vogue.com, The Daily Beast, The Trace, and Democracy: A Journal of Ideas. She is also a PostBourgie alum.