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2020 Independent Press Award--Distinguished Favorite for Memoir
Joan Brooks Baker grew up privileged in the New York City of post-World War II America. The Yankee daughter of transplanted, dyed-in-the-wool Southerners soon confronted an unwritten code of conduct--the Magnolia Code--that paralyzed her mother and threatened to do the same to her. In this memoir, Baker shares how she navigated her bifurcated world, defying the code and finding role models in rebellious women including her Aunt Billie, who challenged her to be herself regardless of the consequences. Baker examines relationships with her primary and extended families, ultimately discovering that her work as a photographer taught her much about who she is and where she belongs. The author's unselfconscious, humorous narrative will strike a chord for those who struggle in a world full of paradox.