Childers, Mary 1952–
Childers, Mary 1952–
(Mary M. Childers)
PERSONAL: Born 1952. Education: Ph.D.
CAREER: Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, adjunct assistant professor, director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action program, and assistant to the president. Instructor at various colleges. Consultant, mediating conflict and providing discrimination prevention training. Guest on radio and television programs, including McNeil-Lehrer News Hour and Diane Rehm Show.
Welfare Brat: A Memoir, Bloomsbury Publishing (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to books, including Radical Mothers: Activist Voices from Left to Right, edited by Alexis Jetter, University Press of New England, 1997, and Conflicts in Feminism, edited by Marianne Hirsch and Evelyn Fox Keller, Routledge, 1990. Contributor of articles and essays to journals and periodicals.
SIDELIGHTS: Mary Childers delivers both a personal story and a slice of social history in her autobiography Welfare Brat: A Memoir. Childers was born in 1952, the third of several children. Her mother was a troubled woman who struggled with alcoholism. With no father figure, the large family struggled to survive in one of the few neighborhoods they could afford, the Bronx section of New York City. Once an elegant neighborhood of fine apartments and universities, the area was rapidly decaying, as long-time residents fled to the suburbs and crime took over. The family was mired in dysfunction and an attitude that ridiculed efforts to excel, or to escape poverty. Still, at an early age Childers was determined to achieve a different life from those she saw all around her, and she succeeded. Her book not only relates her personal story, but brings insight to the complex social issues within it. In addition, it serves as a portrait of an pivotal era in American history, when the decay of urban centers accelerated and became a serious problem.
A Library Journal reviewer, Dale Farris, praised this "heartfelt story of growing up white, Irish Catholic, and on welfare." A Kirkus Reviews writer noted that the author's narrative is highly engaging, particularly in recreating the tension she felt while watching her siblings succumb to the same forces that had blighted their parents' lives. "It all makes for raw, magnetic reading," added the reviewer, who concluded that the book is "a valuable piece of social history, as well as a potent personal tale."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Childers, Mary, Welfare Brat: A Memoir, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2005.
Boston Globe, May 15, 2005, Kate Bollick, review of Welfare Brat.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2005, review of Welfare Brat, p. 207.
Library Journal, March 15, 2005, Dale Farris, review of Welfare Brat, p. 92.
Washington Post, July 12, 2005, Jonathan Yardley, review of Welfare Brat.
Bloomsbury USA Web site, http://www.bloomsburyusa.com/ (July 9, 2005), biographical information on Mary Childers.
Mary Childers Home Page, http://www.marychilders.org (October 18, 2005).