By Jane Saginaw
A story of global travel, personal growth, and family responsibility through the lens of a teenage girl in 1969.
Publication Date: November 29, 2022
Fifteen-year-old Jane was trapped. Trapped in high school in Dallas, Texas where her classes were too easy and her classmates were too conventional. Trapped in service to her mother, a polio survivor who used a wheelchair.
When her parents sold their automobile brake-repair business in 1969, they withdrew Jane from her high school to travel the world, visiting India, Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Yugoslavia and Northern Europe. As she traveled, Jane was pushed to reconcile her dual role as responsible daughter and as teen in the late sixties, the era of Bobby Fischer, The Beatles, and Hair. Because the World is Round reckons with what it means to be an individual, a caretaker, and a traveler in a vast and changing world.
Jane Saginaw is a student in the Ph.D. Program in Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas, where her interests include American domestic life during the Second World War. Before returning to graduate school, Jane was a trial lawyer in Dallas and served in the Clinton Administration as the Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region Six.
“Jane Saginaw’s Because the World Is Round is a moving, hilarious, and beautifully written memoir of the author’s teenage adventure with her family, which takes her to some of the most fascinating places on earth—Lisbon, India, Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Yugoslavia, London—in the year 1970, a time of great political and social upheaval. Along the way, the young protagonist meets Golda Meir, smokes hash for the first time in Kabul, escapes a harrowing encounter with angry villagers in the Indian countryside, and has a coming-of-age epiphany at the London production of Hair. Even more than an adventure tale, though, Because the World Is Round is the story of the relationship between a brilliant, dominant mother who is physically disabled and her caretaker daughter, and the way that relationship changes and grows—sometimes painfully, sometimes joyously—as the daughter begins waking up to the world and a sense of her own identity, femininity, and power. With empathy and wit, in sharply observed prose, Saginaw gives insight into families, mothers, and daughters that is both deeply particular to her life and imbued with universal truths. Because the World Is Round is a book full of wisdom and delight.” —Peter Kline, author of Mirrorforms and Deviants