Best-selling author Beverly Donofrio symbolizes what it means to heal through writing – a process she has gone through in three separate, highly acclaimed memoirs: “Riding in Cars with Boys,” “Looking for Mary,” and “Astonished.” Donofrio returns to Middlesex Community College for four upcoming events to discuss her books and writing, her philosophies on life and faith, and the importance of using grief and tragedy for inner growth.
On April 4, Donofrio will deliver a keynote speech and book signing during the MxCC Forum for Women Students (9:30 – 11 a.m.). Reservations are required for this annual event, and can be made online at http://mxcc.edu/event/womensforum. Donofrio revisits the campus on April 9 for a discussion on her first memoir, “Riding in Cars with Boys” (12:30 – 1:20 p.m.), and on April 10 for a discussion on the film version of the book – followed by a writing workshop (11 a.m. – 1:50 p.m.). All events are free and open to the public, and are held in Chapman Hall on the MxCC Middletown campus.
Donofrio also will visit MxCC’s Meriden Center in downtown Meriden on April 8 at 12:30 for a book discussion. This event, which is also free and open to the public, will be held in the Meriden Center’s new community room.
To help fund Donofrio’s visits, MxCC received several grants and donations from the Connecticut Humanities, Wesleyan University’s Library (Donofrio is a Wesleyan graduate), and the Community Foundation of Middlesex County. Some of the proceeds were used for Donofrios appearance at MxCC’s Women History Month celebration in March.
“Riding in Cars with Boys,” which was made into a movie starring Drew Barrymore, is a humorous yet heartwarming story about becoming a teenage mother, going through a divorce, living on welfare, and being arrested for drug possession. The Library Journal magazine says this book appeals “to every similar child of the 1960s who, despite barriers and a lack of encouragement, safely made the passage to adulthood.” Donofrio, who took a writing class at MxCC early on in her career, mentions the College in several pages of this book.
Her second memoir, “Looking for Mary,” told how Donofrio — a lapsed Catholic now in her 40s — unexpectedly began a profound journey of spiritual transformation. Publisher’s Weekly says this book is “deeply personal and wonderfully written (and) invites the reader to confront skeptical attitudes about religion, religious practices, and religious dogmas and step into the divine light.”
Her newest memoir, “Astonished,” (published in 2013), is centered around her five-year journey to recovery after being raped in her home in Mexico (she was in her 50s at this time). The majority of her search for healing and deeper faith was spent in two Colorado monasteries, St. Benedict’s Trappist Monastery and Nada Hermitage, during a time when she seriously considered becoming a nun living in strict solitude.
Christine Ruggiero, English professor at MxCC, was involved in bringing Donofrio to the College. She says the College is honored to feature Donofrio during its celebration of Women’s History Month because of the author’s obvious success – but also because her body of work aligns with two new writing courses offered at MxCC this year on memoir and poetry. Her appearance also mirrors the theme of this year’s Women Students Forum event: “Writing, the Arts, and Healing.”
“Writing is such a powerful tool that can help us find a sense of understanding and perhaps even forgiveness,” Ruggiero said. “Donofrio stands out as a champion of those endeavors, and an exceptional role model for anyone trying to uncover the voice of today’s woman – through grief, tragedy, and through the unexpected. We have many exceptional voices here on campus and in our community who will benefit greatly from attending any or all of these highly anticipated events.”