All the lost Girls//Confessions of a Southern Daughter

About the book

Patricia Foster’s lyrical yet often painful memoir explores the life of a white middle-class girl who rew up in rural south Alabama in the 1950s and 1960s, a time and place that did not tolerate deviation

from traditional gender roles. Her mother raised Foster and her sister as “honorary boys,” girls with the ambition of men but the temperament of women.


An unhappy, intelligent woman who kept a heartbreaking secret from everyone close to her, Foster’s mother was driven by a repressed rage that fed her obsession for middle-class respectability.


By the time Foster reached age fifteen, her efforts to reconcile the contradictory expectations that she be at once ambitious and restrained had left her nervous and needy inside even while she tried to cultivate the appearance of the model student, sister, and daughter.


It was only a psychological and physical breakdown that helped her to realize

that she couldn’t save her driven, complicated mother and must struggle

instead for both understanding and autonomy.



Patricia Foster is an Associate Professor

of English at the University of Iowa. She is editor of Minding the Body: Women Writers on Body and Soul and Sister to Sister: Women Write About the Unbreakable Bond and co-editor of The Healing Circle.



“All the Lost Girls dramatizes the subtle influences of family and culture,and especially of southern culture, on a young woman’s psyche. At the sametime, the book carries on the southern literary tradition of creating astrong, direct voice that isn’t afraid to see the humor of a situation,to artistically sketch a lush landscape, and to depict fascinating ruralcharacters.”

—Mary Swander, author of Out of This World: A Woman’s Life Among the Amish


“The trouble with southern daughters and mothers is thatthere is precious little confession going on. Ours is a terrain of secretsand deceptions. I love the way Patricia Foster just wades into that darkand murky love-hate that keeps mothers and daughters forever mysteriousto each other.”

—Nanci Kincaid, author of Crossing Blood


About The Author

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