Her memoir tells the story of breaking free from the most difficult trap to escape: family. As a girl, Barbie’s world was charged with rivalry between her two sisters for attention from parents too broke and overwhelmed to notice. A move across the country from upstate New York to Montana eventually provided financial security, but with young Barbie and her sisters in the back of a covered truck in the cold, the stage was set of a life that lacked empathy.
Growing up in rural Montana, Barbie’s life was continually overshadowed by the demands and priorities of everyone around her. Her mother’s job as a teacher of Math and Science at Marion School brought a distraction every night with a pile of papers to correct, but her father’s passion as a trapper carried a metaphor too painful to absorb. Living amongst the corpses of dead animals around the house, Barbie’s spirit deteriorated at home beneath parental apathy and a stream of constant diminishment from her sisters.
Beginning with an adult sojourn in France, Beaton narrates the transformation after four decades of denying her story to growing within its truth. With eloquent prose, she takes the reader along the perilous journey that allowed her to escape the definition of herself built by family, and creates a vivid portrait of what it means to persevere, and ultimately, to love. This unforgettable story illustrates a healing of the heart in great measure, and renders family, and all its wounds, with an indelible script evident of beauty and grace.
Barbie Beaton writes creative nonfiction as a form of empowerment from intergenerational family trauma. Her work is published in the anthology Bright Bones, Contemporary Montana Writing. She lives in Missoula, MT with her husband and their two teenage daughters.