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Sherrie Fernandez-Williams reads from Soft: a Memoir

About the book: 

"Soft is the girl who grew up in the projects of Brooklyn, who escaped by making hard choices.  She realizes as early as third grade how “frightening freedom can be”-a metaphor not only for the freedom she allowed herself that day in third grade to write, right on through recess, but a  foreshadowing of the freedom she would embrace as she eventually escapes from a love-less, abusive marriage.  Fernandez-Williams admits she, early on, knew “that shame was the shortest distance between a point and the psychiatric unit.”  She “left it, back in Brooklyn,” “whatever was just too damn heavy”  and moved to the Midwest newly married, with a college degree, only to discover her life had soon become “Tempered by the Midwest, tempered by marriage, by age, by middle-classdom, by religiosity,and [her] longings for small houses and station wagons.” 

Fernandez-William’s dream of adopting a child is offset by the realities of mothering.  Her love for her unloving husband is offset by years of knowing she loved women. Jesus is the savior Fernandez-Williams clings to, even as her belief in Christianity wanes.

Soft, Sherrie Fernandez-William’s first book, is a relentlessly textured memoir exposing the author’s life as she goes back and forth in time, examining who she is today, and why.  Soft is a story for those who understand moving from one geographical, spiritual, or identity oriented place to another, hoping to escape, only to discover there are always other places that need escaping.  It is a story for those searching their own lives to understand the capacity we may have to move forward, even as we may be forced to move back, with strength, and dignity and compassion, and despite our fears."—Sherry Quan Lee, author of Chinese Blackbird, How to Write a Suicide Note: serial essays that saved a woman’s life, and Love Imagined:  a mixed race memoir.

"An African proverb says “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.”  In Soft, Sherrie Fernandez-Williaims weaves the threads of her life; from her childhood in the Farragut Housing Project in Brooklyn to her move to St. Paul MN where she manages to survive a tumultuous marriage, through adopting and raising a set of twins, to her achieving an MFA degree and a fulfilling career and finding love with another woman.  In finding, claiming and owning her own power, Fernandez-Williams not only ties up a lion, she become a lioness.  Her story breaks down multiple stereotypes."—Carolyn Holbrook, author of Ordinary People, Extraordinary Journeys:  How the St. Paul Companies Leadership Initiatives in Neighborhoods Program Changed Lives and Communities.

“Sherrie Fernandez-Williams is a new voice in memoir that you’ll want to know: accomplished, unblinking, right there, telling truth.  “Soft” is about coming up through poverty and silence and getting “grown,” about writing as an act of faith, adoption and the shock of motherhood, terror and the hard true path of love.  A bracing, tender story that rings with joy. Turns out that crazy optimism and the disappointment it reaps can actually bloom, and “life could be as spectacular as a light show of celestial bodies.” -- Patricia Weaver Francisco, author of Telling.

Author's Bio

Sherrie Fernandez-Williams is the author of Soft:  A Memoir.   Sherrie holds an MFA from Hamline University.  She received a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, a SASE/Jerome Grant through Intermedia Arts.  She was a Loft Mentor Series winner and winner of the Givens Black Writers Fellowship.   She was also a winner of the Playwrights’ Center, Jones Commission Award.  Excerpts of her memoir have been published in several literary journals and anthologies.

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