It's 1985 in a small factory town near Pittsburgh. Eight-year-old Karen's parents are lifelong workers at the Anchor Glass plant, where one Saturday, an employee goes on a shooting spree, killing four supervisors, then himself. This event splits the young girl's life open, and like her mother, she begins to seek comfort in obsessive rituals and superstitions.
This beautifully evocative memoir chronicles the next 14 years, as Karen moves through girlhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. It illuminates small-town factory life, explores a complicated mother-daughter bond, thoughtfully unfolds a smart but insecure girl's coming of age, achingly recounts her attempts to use sex to fit in, and ultimately uncovers the buried secret from her childhood - a medical file with an unbearable report.
The Girl Factory deftly travels the intersections of memory and origin. Karen's body remembers details her mind has tried to control. As the young woman mines her interior landscape for answers, certain questions persist. Where does memory live - in the body or the mind? And can you rewrite the story of your past?