Today’s author interview is with Wanda Maureen Miller, author of the new book Last Trip Home: A Story of an Arkansas Farm Girl.
“Who do you thank you are, the Quane of Anglund?” That’s what Grace Marie’s father used to say to her whenever he thought she was getting out of her place. In her fifties now, Grace Marie is a college professor living in a beach town in California, and when she gets a phone call telling her that her father is dead, she is glad. She hopes her return for his funeral will be her “last trip home.”
As a young girl Grace Marie struggled to escape from poverty, her father’s lecherous, controlling grip, and a husband in the Klan. Determined to get an education, she clawed her way to a comfortable life and a home with indoor toilets—but her most unexpected struggle turned out to be survivor’s guilt, so she kept returning home to “fix” her family and the sharecropper shack. After her father’s funeral, Grace Marie burns down the family home—only to discover that she has unexpected ties to both the land and the people in her community. She realizes she will never have a “last trip home.”
Wanda Maureen Miller (she goes by “Mo”) is the author of The Last Trip Home. This book’s genre is a bit interesting. Mo refers to it as her “Mem-Novel”, or memoir-novel. Mo’s book is basically her life story, with some fictional twists and name changes, of growing up in Arkansas in the 1940s, at a time when racism was rampant and child abuse/neglect was ignored as part of everyday life. The Last Trip Home focuses on Mo returning to her childhood home to bury her abusive father. It’s a powerful read. As a guest Mo is animated engaging, and often very blunt and outspoken. She’s not one to shy away from the taboo, and willing to talk frankly about her experiences in the hope of encouraging other women and girls to understand that abuse is not normal.