Lara Cleveland Torgesen received her B.A. degree in English from Brigham Young University in 1993 and worked for several years in marketing communications in California’s Silicon Valley. When she moved to North Carolina in 2004, she decided to pursue a master’s degree in liberal studies from North Carolina State University. Her deep interest in women’s studies and social justice led her to research the eugenics movement in the United States, and particularly North Carolina’s unique place within that movement. After interviewing several survivors about their experiences as well as professionals in academics, journalism, and politics, she wrote the cover article for the March 24, 2010 edition of The Independent Weekly entitled, “The Ultimate Betrayal: NC Eugenics Survivors Seek Justice.” The article won first place for feature writing from the NC Press Association in 2010, and third place for long-form news story from The Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. Unfit is Torgesen’s first novel.
**We are thrilled to be included in the list of 2014’s Top 20 downloads from the Eddy-New Rockford Library, as well as book blogger Miss Suzie’s Favorites of 2014!**
UNFIT has a soundtrack! Folk singer Rebekah Todd was commissioned to write a song about the novel’s main character, Chrissy.
Click below to listen to “Chrissy’s Song” –
Chrissy Rollins has a mountain of troubles of overcome, one that would crush most other girls her age.
She was born in a small North Carolina town in 1952, into a poor but happy and loving family that always managed to scrape by each month. Until the night her father died in a car crash. That changed everything. Chrissy’s mother is forced to take a job working nights in a bar to supplement the meager welfare checks the state of North Carolina provides, leaving Chrissy to raise her five siblings. But even these sacrifices were not enough.
North Carolina was among the states to practice eugenics – forcing sterilization procedures on thousands of people deemed “unfit” to reproduce. When Chrissy’s mother was faced with the choice of having 14-year-old Chrissy sterilized or losing her welfare check, she makes the only choice she feels she can and signs the consent form. That act of survival sets into motion a series of events that shape the course of Chrissy’s life forever.
Despite knowing in her heart that she did not deserve to be sterilized, that she was not in fact “unfit,” Chrissy struggles for the rest of her life with feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and a belief that she doesn’t deserve to have anything good happen to her.
Little by little, though, Chrissy claws her way past every obstacle, slowly building a new family of friends and eventually finding her soul mate, with whom she is reborn. With their support, she becomes a woman who is strong, loving, intelligent and anything but unfit.
Her gripping story is an inspiration for anyone who started life with little hope for the future, those who faced problems that felt insurmountable, or just anyone who ever felt “unfit.”
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