Broken Free: Writers on Cutting Ties is an anthology of contributor essays and poetry about familial estrangement, edited by Jenny Bartoy. This book will feature writing by several award-winning authors along with powerful emerging talents. Broken Free is currently in development and seeking agent representation. Please email jennybartoy AT gmail DOT com to make inquiries or request a proposal.
The purpose of Broken Free is to share nuanced experiences of estrangement, written beautifully, in diverse voices. According to research, up to 27% of Americans are estranged from at least one family member. This reality affects over a quarter of our population, yet estrangement can be a source of great shame: rarely discussed and often stigmatized. The perspectives in this anthology will bring connection and validation to readers who have experienced estrangement, and will foster understanding and empathy in those who have not.
Each story is unique and, in the pieces chosen for the anthology, context will be important. Contributors will write about the causes and decision-making for their estrangement. But focus will be given at least equally to the experience of having cut contact: repercussions, grief, anger, relief, hope. Writers will share the discoveries they made, the trauma they processed, the voice they found in severing contact with family or in having contact severed with them.
Anthologized pieces will consider how culture, race, politics, religion, gender, and/or sexual identity, or factors like mental illness, addiction, or intergenerational trauma might affect or compound estrangement. Cutting ties is marginalizing in itself; how does it exist in juxtaposition with other forms of marginalization? Extricating ourselves from the grasp of a toxic or abusive family member or system can feel impossible — how does the experience of estrangement empower us? Estrangement can also stem from abandonment, rejection, irreparable grievances, or moral or ethical disagreements — sometimes a combination of these factors. Often it epitomizes an essential and devastating incompatibility between family members. How does estrangement break or free us?
Submissions to Broken Free are currently by invitation only. Check back in early 2024 for an open call for submissions.