Author Event: No Perfect Mothers by Karen Spears Zacharias

Central Oregon resident and author of Mother of Rain and The Murder Gene, Karen Spears Zacharias will join us to discuss her new book, No Perfect Mothers, released March 5. 

There is much about her hometown that Carrie Buck loves: Venable Elementary where she first learned to read; Starr Hill because that's where Miss Mora lives; Chancellor's Drugstore where she sometimes gets a free cola; and Anderson's Bookstore where a girl can look through all the books she likes. While 1920s Charlottesville, Virginia, is a charming place to grow up, there's one thing Carrie doesn't like about her hometown--her home. Abandoned by her father and taken from her mother, Carrie is put up for fostering as a toddler. A silent child, her foster parents regard her as slow. She feels no obligation to correct them. At age ten, Carrie is forced to leave school to work as a domestic. Carrie's lone ally, Miss Mora, a Scottish immigrant, is hindered by racial barriers from being the helper Carrie so desperately needs. But when Carrie turns up pregnant at seventeen, it is Miss Mora, Charlottesville's most competent midwife, who she turns to. Fearing their nephew's assault of Carrie will be discovered, Carrie's foster parents fraudulently commit her to the Virginia Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded. They claim custody of her infant daughter. Dr. Priddy, the colony's superintendent, deceptively labels Carrie an imbecile, unfit to bear children. In pursuit of a legal argument granting states the right to forcibly sterilize individuals, he exploits her. NO PERFECT MOTHERS explores characters, historical and imagined, who over the late 1800s to the 1920s were parties to the infamous Buck v. Bell U.S. Supreme Court case of 1927. Here, Carrie is given back what was denied her by the Court and by society some 100 years ago--her own voice and personhood.

Karen Spears Zacharias is an American writer whose work focuses on women and justice. She holds an MA in Appalachian Studies from Shepherd University and an MA in Creative Media Practice from the University of West Scotland. She lives at the foot of the Cascade Mountains in Deschutes County, Oregon. Zacharias taught First-Amendment Rights at Central Washington University and continues to teach at writing workshops around the country.

"This story is important because it is history that isn't history—women still don't have sovereignty of their reproductive rights. This story is propulsive because it gives us a character to root for. This story is memorable because of Zacharias's command of language and insight into human nature. No Perfect Mothers is a book that provides all the pleasures of a great novel and then some." —Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs

"No Perfect Mothers brings to life the tragically true story of Carrie Buck, a young woman victimized by the eugenics movement of the 1920s. With deft narrative skill and careful attention to historic detail, Karen Spears Zacharias takes us back to a place and time when the voices of poverty-stricken, helpless women were silenced by those in power, their freedom of reproductive choice forever denied. Carrie Buck's story is as important in today's world as it was then—and will haunt you long after the final page." —Cassandra King, author of Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy



Event date: 
Thursday, May 9, 2024 - 6:30pm
Event address: 
900 NW Mt. Washington Drive #110
Bend, OR 97703
No Perfect Mothers By Karen Spears Zacharias Cover Image
ISBN: 9780881469196
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mercer University Press - March 1st, 2024

The Murder Gene: A True Story By Karen Spears Zacharias Cover Image
ISBN: 9781646636464
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
This book cannot be returned to our store.
Published: Koehler Books - May 10th, 2022