The Waking of a Woman’s Voice
Autobiography and Memoir
"Ever since I was 10 years old, I’d felt myself yearning to 'go astray.' For me, that didn’t mean drinking and cavorting with boys; it meant being myself without fear."
—from the book
What happens when a trained singer who grew up in a "house of vowels" finds that her voice is not her own? What happens when a woman loses the Mormon faith of her childhood and abandons the rituals she’s always known? What does a woman, already married for thirteen years by her early thirties, do when she realizes she has been "lying for years?" How does one sing, with grace, from the heart?
In the spirit of Mary Catherine Bateson’s Composing a Life and Kathleen Norris’s Cloister Walk, Heidi Hart’s luminous memoir retraces her search for an opening to her heart’s path. She finds that the religious life of her Latter-day Saint family—which includes a revered General Authority—robs her of her voice and her spirit. When she discovers Catharine, a mute, Quaker ancestor, Hart begins a vital journey—a journey blessed by her devout and devoted husband; a journey that leads her as she studies Zuni mythology, Jewish tradition, Benedictine monastic ritual, Emily Dickinson, and Saint Hildegard of Bingen—a journey that leads her to a place that feels like home: the company of Friends, the Quaker community of Salt Lake City.
With grace and lyricism, Hart shares the private, personal wisdom she has earned in her community of friends, a community that embraces silences and dissonance, a place where she can't keep from singing.
Heidi Hart is a poet, singer, and voice teacher who lives with her husband and two sons in Salt Lake City.
Praise and Reviews:
"This memoir stands above the rest by reason of its unexpected virtues—its winding path and rejection of easy conclusion....her writing has candor and charm and should engage the hearts and minds of many readers. Highly recommended."
"The human voice, lifted in song and poetry, runs through this deeply engaging memoir in startling leitmotif. From the bright cascade of her mother's trained voice to the echoing harmonies of friendship, revelation, history, and insight to (at last) the author's own freed, lyrical speech: we find ourselves reading as the angels must read—in wonder at what is most strange, filled with longing, and fiercely passionate in the human heart."
—Carol Muske-Dukes, author of Sparrow
"Heidi Hart explores women’s interior landscapes of marriage and religion. Like Anne LaMott, Hart unmasks her own cultural demons....Exposing the taboo realities of physical and mental illness, disbelief, and meanness, Hart negotiates with family, community, God, and self to create that most frightening and precious thing—her own imperfect life."
—Linda Sillitoe, coauthor of Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forgery
"This book is the essaying of a personal journey toward being able to breathe, to not be owned or censured by one’s fear and timidity...subtle, as well as dramatic."
—Phyllis Barber, author of How I Got Cultured: A Nevada Memoir
"Like other great memoirs of our age such as Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Terry Tempest Williams's Refuge, and Judy Blunt's Breaking Clean, this is the story of a woman's journey toward personal strength, independence, and authenticity. Hart's search to find her own voice, to 'word [her] way back to her body,' is so deeply and elegantly rendered that it serves as both instruction and gift for the reader."
—Teresa Jordan, author of Riding the White Horse Home: A Western Family Album