In Praise of the Lost and Wandering Girls of Literature

I have a soft spot for what I’ll call lost girls in literature—females who are unmoored, disoriented, or just plain muddled as they grapple with the pain of their past, the uncertainty of their future, the expectations of others, and the building blocks of female identity. As an expat for more than half my life with family spread across five countries, I can’t pin my identity to a single geography. I see myself as a product of many places—a great privilege that comes with psychological costs: feelings of displacement, rootlessness, and randomness, along with nagging questions about identity and belonging. In some cases, technology doesn’t bridge the distance and only underscores it. Reading about lost girls brings me a sense of comfort and hope. Not all those who wander are lost, Tolkien wrote. And the wandering people who are lost always have the chance to find their bearings, so long as they keep their eyes and hearts open. Here are seven of my favorite tales of lost girls. Steve Martin, Shopgirl Mirabelle Buttersfield mans a department store glove counter that no one visits anymore, watching life pass her by in a large metropolis that doesn’t know she exists. Until […]

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