The Marginal Woman: Loving, Living, & Breaking Boundaries in a Pre-Feminist World

This marginal woman remains perched on the edge of society where her options are open, a free spirit who blows convention to the winds, and follows the turns that life presents her with verve and passion. Some will find it exciting to relive those years of societal upheaval, others will gain insight into the struggle of women for their place in the world.

―Judy McConnell, author of A Penny a Kiss: Memoir of a Midwestern Girl and Just Keep Shooting: My Youth in Manhattan

Shirley White Pearl was raised in an era when women stayed home and raised children, took care of the house and husband. But Shirley is anything but typical. In 1952, she sets out to start her adult life at the University of Iowa. She marches in protests and diligently studies the science of the mind. She also gets married and has a child. Young and in love, she suddenly finds herself doing battle with what it means to be a mother and wife when her heart is telling her she wants to be so much more.

Shirley abandons the simple life for a life of academia, meeting new friends, expanding her mind, and eventually divorcing. As a single mother, she pursues a doctorate in psychology and specializes in special education. With a new marriage under her belt, she and her husband move to St. Paul, Minnesota, where Shirley develops and directs a groundbreaking school for children with learning disabilities.

She and her husband eventually divorce and middle age descends upon Shirley while she grapples for what it means to be a woman on her own, a mother who could have done better, and an aging human who continually reinvents herself as her loved ones die. The Marginal Woman: Loving, Living, and Breaking Boundaries in a Pre-Feminist World is a study in the human spirit and what it means to find new life when the odds are stacked against you.

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