Downeast: Five Maine Girls and the Unseen Story of Rural America

Harper: HarperCollins. May 2021. 288p. ISBN 9780062984456. $27.99. SOC SCI
Political and communication strategist Georges has observed that throughout Maine’s rural Washington County, young women are setting high marks and pushing boundaries in the region’s education, athletics, and fishing industry. So, when Georges decided to write this volume dedicated to her adoptive home, she chose Washington County’s young women as her subject—focusing particularly on five teenage girls, their tumultuous high school years, and their entry into the worlds of college, work, or marriage. Georges describes five bright and talented young women who exhibit the determination and devotion to home that she says characterizes the Downeast population. The women struggle as well: one wrestles with the legacy of an abusive parent, while others are challenged by questions of faith or old-fashioned attitudes toward gender roles. Georges writes with clear appreciation for each of the young women and has a strong grasp of the complexities of the region, where economic downturns and the opioid crisis balance against its residents’ deep communal ties and love for the area’s natural beauty and resources.
VERDICT A sensitive paean to an oft-overlooked region of the United States and the young women who live there. Recommended for readers seeking books with a strong sense of place or about girls facing the challenges of the 21st century.
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