Helget, Nicole Lea 1976–

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Helget, Nicole Lea 1976–

PERSONAL: Born 1976, in Sleepy Eye, MN. Education: Attended Minnesota State University, Mankato.

ADDRESSES: Office—Department of English, Minnesota State University, Mankato, MN 56001. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Memoirist and educator. Minnesota State University, Mankato, teaching assistant in English, 2004–.

AWARDS, HONORS: Speakeasy Prize for Prose, 2004.


The Summer of Ordinary Ways (memoir) Borealis Books (St. Paul, MN), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: Nicole Lea Helget's The Summer of Ordinary Ways tells about the author's childhood on a bleak, isolated Minnesota farm and relates the story of her growing up in a series of vignettes. "The story, which moves backward and forward in time," explained Judith Rosen in Publishers Weekly, "ends in 2003, when the author is twenty-seven and a single mother of three who contemplates becoming a writer." "The amalgamation of reminiscences appears random until the final piece," stated another Publishers Weekly reviewer, "in which Helget weaves an account of her child self with that of her adult self."

While many of the vignettes Helget describes are as bleak as the farm on which she was raised, critics noted that the lyricism of her prose mitigates her dour subject matter. Trapped on a lonely eighty-acre homestead with mentally ill parents and five younger sisters, Helget struggles with her mother's depression and her father's latent rage and cruelty. Marrying too young, she flees the farm, only to find that there was beauty and love amid the struggles. "Most of the chapters, it must be admitted," declared a Kirkus Reviews contributor, "are overcast with bleakness—what a wonder it is, then, that Helget's storytelling feels so fresh and vital."



Helget, Nicole Lea, The Summer of Ordinary Ways, Borealis Books (St. Paul, MN), 2005.


Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2005, review of The Summer of Ordinary Ways, p. 828.

Publishers Weekly, July 18, 2005, review of The Summer of Ordinary Ways, p. 196; August 29, 2005, Judith Rosen, review of The Summer of Ordinary Ways, p. 27.