Close cookie details

This site uses cookies. Learn more about cookies.

OverDrive would like to use cookies to store information on your computer to improve your user experience at our Website. One of the cookies we use is critical for certain aspects of the site to operate and has already been set. You may delete and block all cookies from this site, but this could affect certain features or services of the site. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, click here to see our Privacy Policy.

If you do not wish to continue, please click here to exit this site.

Hide notification

  Main Nav
Cinderland
Cover of Cinderland
Cinderland
A Memoir
Borrow Borrow Borrow

A riveting literary debut about the cost of keeping quiet

Amy Jo Burns grew up in Mercury, Pennsylvania, an industrial town humbled by the steel collapse of the 1980s. Instead of the construction booms and twelve-hour shifts her parents' generation had known, the Mercury Amy Jo knew was marred by empty houses, old strip mines, and vacant lots. It wasn't quite a ghost town--only because many people had no choice but to stay.

The year Burns turned ten, this sleepy town suddenly woke up. Howard Lotte, its beloved piano teacher, was accused of sexually assaulting his female students. Among the countless girls questioned, only seven came forward. For telling the truth, the town ostracized these girls and accused them of trying to smear a good man's reputation. As for the remaining girls--well, they were smarter. They lied. Burns was one of them.

But such a lie has its own consequences. Against a backdrop of fire and steel, shame and redemption, Burns tells of the boys she ran from and toward, the friends she abandoned, and the endless performances she gave to please a town that never trusted girls in the first place.

This is the story of growing up in a town that both worshipped and sacrificed its youth--a town that believed being a good girl meant being a quiet one--and the long road Burns took toward forgiving her ten-year-old self. Cinderland is an elegy to that young girl's innocence, as well as a praise song to the curative powers of breaking a long silence.



From the Hardcover edition.

A riveting literary debut about the cost of keeping quiet

Amy Jo Burns grew up in Mercury, Pennsylvania, an industrial town humbled by the steel collapse of the 1980s. Instead of the construction booms and twelve-hour shifts her parents' generation had known, the Mercury Amy Jo knew was marred by empty houses, old strip mines, and vacant lots. It wasn't quite a ghost town--only because many people had no choice but to stay.

The year Burns turned ten, this sleepy town suddenly woke up. Howard Lotte, its beloved piano teacher, was accused of sexually assaulting his female students. Among the countless girls questioned, only seven came forward. For telling the truth, the town ostracized these girls and accused them of trying to smear a good man's reputation. As for the remaining girls--well, they were smarter. They lied. Burns was one of them.

But such a lie has its own consequences. Against a backdrop of fire and steel, shame and redemption, Burns tells of the boys she ran from and toward, the friends she abandoned, and the endless performances she gave to please a town that never trusted girls in the first place.

This is the story of growing up in a town that both worshipped and sacrificed its youth--a town that believed being a good girl meant being a quiet one--and the long road Burns took toward forgiving her ten-year-old self. Cinderland is an elegy to that young girl's innocence, as well as a praise song to the curative powers of breaking a long silence.



From the Hardcover edition.
Available formats-
  • Kindle Book
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:

Recommended for you

Excerpts-
  • From the book

    Prologue
    By the time the police entered our houses uninvited throughout the fall of 1991, our mothers had already commanded each of us to tell the truth about Howard Lotte, and we'd already decided to lie. It was too impossible for anyone to conceive, even those of us who had sat with Mr. Lotte and his feckless hands through seasons of weeknight piano lessons, that such a man could commit something so unholy, even if he was a little bit fat. Everyone in Mercury knew which girls had already snitched. We saw what it had cost them. The best hope for the rest of us, we thought then, was to remain anonymous until winter arrived and all the talk turned to idle chatter before it disappeared altogether.

    But the gossip about Mr. Lotte would not be squelched, and so the police launched a formal investigation to put the rumors to rest. Making a uniform circuit around town, the squad stopped at the homes of each of Mr. Lotte's peach-faced, preteen protégés. Some of the homes were split level and some were Victorian, but none of them were trailers. Mr. Lotte didn't seem to take on those kinds of girls. Anyone who was anyone took lessons from Mr. Lotte--if you were female, of course.

    When each of our turns came to be questioned, the lies spilled out so easily we suspected they'd been planted long ago. There were few girls--seven, to be exact--bold enough to tell the truth, but their soft voiced protests were almost drowned out by those of us unable to defy a town rallying behind one of its own. Though we were just ten, eleven, twelve years old, it became quite clear that men like Mr. Lotte secured a kind of protection that girls like us never could.

    The police supplied the questions, and we offered the answers we thought they wanted to hear. Like a swooping she-owl, our voices raised into an echoing chorus as mothers drew the shades for the night and the distant five o'clock bell signaled a shift change at the mill.

    Did he put his hands on you?
    No, Officer. No, he didn't. No no no no no.

    The sound found its way to the woods by the edge of the school yard where an old basketball hoop had been torn from the ground and laid prone some time ago, the same spot where lovesick boys dared to press their burning palms against a girl's. Then the sound moved toward the courthouse at the center of town where Mr. Lotte wouldn't get the opportunity to appear before a jury of his peers. Our voices only weakened once they reached Mercury's city limits, where the
    highway cut us off from the rest of the world.

    Now the town itself haunts us more than Mr. Lotte, even more than our own lies. It seems a story like this couldn't happen anywhere but Mercury, a place that had become its own needy planet, a town we loved for its empty houses, abandoned buildings, and vacant lots. The people of Mercury liked their trucks, their Iron City beer, and the stench of burning leaves. They knew how to work with their hands--how to sew a quilt, how to fix a carburetor, how to patch a roof. They knew how to wait out a tough winter.

    Together we all lived in the afterlife of a city that was once a titan. A very long time ago, Andrew Carnegie evangelized the steel gospel. He followed a simple formula: Contain the coal. Set it on fire. Strip away the impurities. Dispose of the slag.

    This was how a legion of unstoppable steel rods was sired. But then came the Steel Apocalypse, and Pittsburgh's satellite cities didn't all become ghost towns only because many people had no choice but to stay. Instead, the loss of our lifeblood slowed everything to a pace that was barely detectable, and the era of...

About the Author-
  • Amy Jo Burns teaches at the Arts Council of Princeton and writes for Ploughshares. She lives in Franklin Park, New Jersey. This is her first book.

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    August 15, 2014
    A haunting debut memoir about the price of keeping secrets in small-town, Rust Belt America. Mercury, Pennsylvania, had once been a thriving, vigorous city. But when Burns grew up there during the aftermath of "the Steel Apocalypse" that began in the late 1960s, life moved at a "barely detectable" pace. In 1991, the town suddenly emerged from its "waking sleep" to confront the shocking reality that a beloved piano teacher had been fondling his young female students. As a 10-year-old, Burns was one of the victims. Yet she chose to lie about the molestation because in Mercury, "a girl [couldn't] escape her reputation," and the seven girls who told the truth had faced devastating consequences. But silence had its own costs. Burns' capacity to love during adolescence became stunted by fear. She could not fully open her heart to a boy because her trust had been violated. Further, love also had the potential to root her to a town that she loved but desperately wanted to escape. Any relationships she did form were with "safe" boys, like those from her church or with those for whom love was a performance, much like the ones she gave on stage in high school drama productions. Her unquiet conscience never let her forget the fellow victims she had betrayed through her silence. In an ironic twist, Burns became one of seven homecoming princesses, girls as pure as new-made steel who had the love and approval of Mercury. But as she discovered, getting everything she wanted was "dirty business." Only by leaving that world built by coal and iron and now foundering in its own ashes could she begin her process of purification through the written word. A slim, lyrically evocative memoir.

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    September 1, 2014
    Burns grew up in the Rust Belt town of Mercury, Pennsylvania, and writes evocatively of familiar seasonal rituals, including summers at the swimming pool, football games, and local theater productions. Mercury has a problem, howevera piano teacher whose hands wander to his young female students. Burns is one of those who denied the allegations and steadfastly refused to admit what went on during her weekly lessons. Now, years later, she trains her literary eye with elegant precision on the town that induced her to enact that charade. With words of seminal grace and power, Burns writes artfully of the urge to leave home, teenage romance, and lost friendships. Shunning sensationalism, she instead immerses readers in images of a town mourning its broken promise of middle-class success and clinging to moments of past glory. It simply cannot bear another loss. Burns has clearly never been able to reconcile the lie her 10-year-old self so casually embraced, writing, Some will stay and wish they'd left. Others will leave and wish they'd stayed. I will always be looking back. (Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

  • Library Journal, starred review "The toll that Burns's silence took manifested in several forms, and she details them here in a thoughtfully written examination of what motivated her to keep silent while other victims spoke out"
  • Kirkus Reviews "A haunting debut memoir about the price of keeping secrets... [S]lim, lyrically evocative."
  • Boston Globe "[A] raw, painful memoir ... at its most compelling when Burns sketches the contours of her girlhood ... rendering them not quaint but stifling and ominous."
  • The Rumpus "Burns' writing is deliciously dense and full of perfectly picked observations.... Cinderland is a powerful and captivating memoir."
  • Pittsburgh Quarterly "With gentle, focused prose, [Burns] turns the confessional memoir genre upside down."
  • Star Tribune "An expository reflection on how a place shapes our own sense of self."
  • The Kansas City Star "A scorching memoir about a town divided."
  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "[Burns] has a way with words that allows her to make her sleepy town and the dilapidated Pittsburgh area of the 1990s glimmer. ... Her writing is affecting without being sensational, and the reader's heart is left aching at the end of each chapter."
  • The Star-Ledger "Burns writes beautifully of coming of age in a rust belt town."
  • Justin St. Germain, author of Son of a Gun "Amy Jo Burns has written a humane and lapidary account of her Rust Belt childhood: the claustrophobia, the yearning for escape, the weight and consequence of secrets. I have never read a book that captures small-town American life so perfectly."
  • Roxane Gay, author of An Untamed State "Amy Jo Burns's Cinderland is an exquisite achievement. From the first page to the last, I held my breath as Burns held my heart. She writes of small Rust Belt towns and the boys and girls who grow up and apart in those towns and the overwhelming need for escape and what happens when secrets no one should have to bear burn and burn. This book demands to be read."
  • Scott Cheshire, author of High as the Horses' Bridles "Memoir of the highest order, Cinderland lovingly gives voice to a troubled community, small-town summers, young love and heartbreak, a scandal that tears a town apart, and the memory of a young girl who told a dangerous lie. Or did she? Amy Jo Burns writes like a dream, beyond her years, and this book is gripping, generous, and wise."
  • Meredith Hall, author Without a Map "Amy Jo Burns delivers an unerring report from inside the universe of a teenaged girl struggling to escape the town she both loves and mistrusts. This is a place that insists on secrets held, and she is a good girl, holding hers tenaciously, at all costs."
  • Elliott Holt, author of You Are One of Them "'I did not want to tell this story,' Amy Jo Burns confesses in Cinderland, but readers will be glad she did. This memoir is testament to the incinerating power of secrets and the steely resolve of survivors. But it's also an unforgettable portrait of a small Rust Belt town in decline, and in that sense it is a story about America, one of ruin and reinvention, of ashes and incandescence."
Title Information+
  • Publisher
    Beacon Press
  • Kindle Book
    Release date:
  • OverDrive Read
    Release date:
  • EPUB eBook
    Release date:
Digital Rights Information+
  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

Status bar:

You've reached your checkout limit.

Visit your Checkouts page to manage your titles.

Close

You already have this title checked out.

Want to go to your Checkouts?

Close

Recommendation Limit Reached.

You've reached the maximum number of titles you can recommend at this time. You can recommend up to 2 titles every 30 day(s).

Close

Sign in to recommend this title.

Recommend your library consider adding this title to the Digital Collection.

Close

Enhanced Details

Close
Close

Limited availability

Availability can change throughout the month based on the library's budget.

is available for days.

Once playback starts, you have hours to view the title.

Close

Permissions

Close

The OverDrive Read format of this eBook has professional narration that plays while you read in your browser. Learn more here.

Close

Holds

Total holds:


Close

Restricted

Some format options have been disabled. You may see additional download options outside of this network.

Close

MP3 audiobooks are only supported on macOS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) through 10.14 (Mojave). Learn more about MP3 audiobook support on Macs.

Close

Please update to the latest version of the OverDrive app to stream videos.

Close

You've reached your library's checkout limit for digital titles.

To make room for more checkouts, you may be able to return titles from your Checkouts page.

Close

Excessive Checkout Limit Reached.

There have been too many titles checked out and returned by your account within a short period of time.

Try again in several days. If you are still not able to check out titles after 7 days, please contact Support.

Close

You have already checked out this title. To access it, return to your Checkouts page.

Close

This title is not available for your card type. If you think this is an error contact support.

Close

An unexpected error has occurred.

If this problem persists, please contact support.

Close

Close

NOTE: Barnes and Noble® may change this list of devices at any time.

Close
Buy it now
and help our library WIN!
Cinderland
Cinderland
A Memoir
Amy Jo Burns
Choose a retail partner below to buy this title for yourself.
A portion of this purchase goes to support your library.
Clicking on the 'Buy It Now' link will cause you to leave the library download platform website. The content of the retail website is not controlled by the library. Please be aware that the website does not have the same privacy policy as the library or its service providers.
Close
Close

There are no copies of this issue left to borrow. Please try to borrow this title again when a new issue is released.

Close
Barnes & Noble Sign In |   Sign In

You will be prompted to sign into your library account on the next page.

If this is your first time selecting “Send to NOOK,” you will then be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

The first time you select “Send to NOOK,” you will be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

You can read periodicals on any NOOK tablet or in the free NOOK reading app for iOS, Android or Windows 8.

Accept to ContinueCancel