Ordinary Trauma

A Memoir

As if she could not bear to leave it, Jennifer Sinor came into this spinning world twice, once dead and once alive, the first time born from her mother, the second, from a bucket, its silvery metal sides a poor substitute for the womb, yet enough. Through spare yet lyrical prose, Sinor threads together the story of how she learned to carry the bucket she was born into and reclaim all that was tossed away. In short, almost telegraphic, linked pieces, Ordinary Trauma reveals moments in life that are made to appear unremarkable but harm deeply. Set against the late Cold War and a military childhood spent amid fast-attack submarines and long-range nuclear missiles, this memoir delivers a revelatory look at how moments that typically pass unnoticed form the very basis for our perceptions of both love and loss.

Finalist for the 15 Bytes Book Award for Creative Nonfiction

Interview with Tom Williams at Access Utah

Jennifer Sinor is the author of several books of nonfiction including Letters Like the Day: On Reading Georgia O’Keeffe. The recipient of the Stipend in American Modernism, she teaches creative writing at Utah State University, where she is a professor of English.

Author Website

Praise and Reviews:
“An outstanding memoir: keenly intelligent, elegantly shaped, beautifully described, and rich with honest insight. At times Sinor’s voice is as intimate as a whisper, and the prose is always crisp, clear, pulling the reader forward into the deeper ends of her story.”
—Dinty W. Moore, author of the memoir Between Panic and Desire

“In evocative and highly charged prose, Sinor makes us feel the importance of women’s stories from the home front, of scars received fighting domestic wars. Through her brilliant use of metaphor, she shows us how and why these hidden wars are emotionally, and sometimes literally, deadly. This is an extraordinary, harrowing, and stunning book.”
—Sue William Silverman, author of The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew

“A sharp, relevant coming-of-age memoir. Sinor’s writing is strong—exploratory, self-implicating, and often simply beautiful.”
—Debra Gwartney, author of the memoir Live Through This

In Ordinary Trauma, Jennifer Sinor explains the universal themes of loss, grief, and finding self-worth in a way that is utterly captivating and unique. Told exclusively through interwoven vignettes, the memoir reminds the reader of the importance of women’s stories, of the traumas that society deems ordinary, of the way women are taught to hide and to wait for the ocean to sweep it all away. Ordinary Trauma proves that no trauma is ordinary...”—Mid-America Review

Ordinary Trauma is a layered, complex, elegantly written memoir of individual and collective trauma. …Intense, thoughtful, and thought provoking.”—Western American Literature