From INDIE-Gold-award-winning author Kelly J. Baker comes a breathtaking memoir about building a new life upon broken dreams.
When Kelly J. Baker finished her Ph.D. in religion, she imagined that she would end up in the tenure-track job for which she trained. She had done everything right: written a provocative and well-researched book, given presentations at national conferences, published articles, and created and taught a number of popular classes.
Doing everything right, however, doesn't guarantee anything if the career you trained for is no longer sustainable. The economic depression in 2008 gutted the job market for tenure-track jobs in the humanities, so she couldn't find her dream job. Instead, she worked for years as an underpaid non-tenure-track instructor. But after five years of job rejections and a new baby on the way, she took a year off to figure out if the career she trained for was actually the life she wanted: a grace period.
Baker documents her transition out of academia and the emotional turmoil of rebuilding a life beyond what she had dreamed of. Baker resists telling an easy story about her exit from the academy into a post-academic career; she does not smooth over the hard reality of transitions. She describes the importance of patience and the realization that the lives we imagine for ourselves are tenuous at best and often are impossible to achieve. In the end, she lets go of the dream, building a life with her family and a new career. Along the way, she provides a ray of hope for all who desire a new path in life.
"As much as Grace Period is a memoir, ...it is a book about dreams: what they give us, what they take from us, how they break us, and how they re-make us." -The Tallahassee Democrat
"In a series of vivid and beautiful essays, Baker uses her changing relationship to academia to reflect on 'grace periods, ' those moments (or strings of moments) when you leave one possible future behind without quite knowing what's next." -Derek Attig, Ph.D., Book Riot
About the Author
Kelly J. Baker is a freelance writer with a religious studies Ph.D. who covers religion, racism, higher education, gender, labor, motherhood, and popular culture. She's written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Rumpus, and The Washington Post among others. She's the author of the award-winning Gospel According to the Klan: The KKK's Appeal to Protestant America, 1915-1930 and The Zombies are Coming!: The Realities of the Zombie Apocalypse in American Culture.
"Grace Period tracks the trials and triumphs of Baker's post-academic transition from 2013 to 2017 with great insight and humor. Baker deftly balances personal struggles and broad institutional inequities as she confronts the trauma of leaving the academy. Recounting the many miseries of applying, adjuncting, interviews, rejection, writing, book contracts, disappearing jobs, and a certain disciplinary task force on contingency, Baker makes her way to the personal turning point, smack in the middle of the book: "I'm no longer transitioning away from academic work and life. I'm moving forward, one small step at a time." Her journey will help many traverse their own paths forward."
--Karen Kelsky, Ph.D., author of The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide to Turning Your Ph.D. Into a Job
In a series of vivid and beautiful essays, Baker uses her changing relationship to academia to reflect on "grace periods," those moments (or strings of moments) when you leave one possible future behind without quite knowing what's next. -Derek Attig, Ph.D., Book Riot