Finished December 18
Miss Jane by Brad Watson
Watson was inspired to write this novel based on the real story of his own great-aunt. Miss Jane Chisolm was born in the early twentieth-century in rural Mississippi with a genital birth defect. At the time, there wasn't the knowledge to correct the situation and so the local doctor watches carefully for signs of infection and other issues. This defect left her incontinent and unable to participate in the life that would otherwise be expected of her, that of wife and mother.
We see how the local doctor, intelligent and well-trained, asks for advice from colleagues back east in Baltimore and becomes a guiding force in young Jane's life. Her parents are supportive but rely on the doctor to explain things to Jane as she gets older, and Jane's older sister Grace becomes her primary caregiver early on.
Jane is a strong and intelligent girl and woman, curious about life and about her own situation. She would love to be a normal girl, but in some ways she always stands apart from her peers. Her efforts to engage in normal behaviour, from attending school to becoming interested in boys, are intense but ultimately she must rely on herself.
She feels most content on her family farm, living a simple life. I found her a fascinating character for her openness and acceptance of her situation, and her internal strength.