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A Young Woman from the Provinces, by Jo Ann Kiser

From inhabitant of a cardboard cradle deep in the Kentucky hills to young romantic in New York City, Geneva Clay is transformed by her journey and yet indelibly the same.

As Geneva’s family migrates from one place to another, the once-familiar landscapes of her Kentucky childhood blend into a mosaic of poetic memories and near mythologies. In an Ohio college, she forms enduring friendships that provide both sustenance and education: Ella, an independent and empathetic spirit navigating a racially challenged environment; Sammy, a sophisticated rebel who briefly mentors Geneva; and Annie, who introduces Geneva to the excitement and complexities of New York.

Geneva tentatively adopts the grand city, seeking work and love. After months of unhappy struggle and loneliness, she secures a position in a prestigious research foundation and, taking a chance on a brief encounter in a museum, gets involved with and marries Cullen, her first true love. However, continuing to grapple with reshaping her identity, she eventually leaves the Chatham Foundation and Cullen, too, behind.

Much like Geneva, we all must part with our childhood innocence and embark on a quest to find our place within the universe, one that will fill the void left by the magic circle of meaning we’ve left behind.

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