About Sandell

sandell-bio2I write because I love to express ideas with words. I write essays because they are big and messy. And they are true—or as true as I can make them. Truth is important to me. I grew up with a shape shifting father, a man who changed his story, saying to me, “I never said such a thing.” “You’re dreaming.” I felt as if I was walking on sponges, nothing solid under my feet. After high school, I left home, went to college, fell in love with words and with books. Yet, years passed before I became a writer. I was a wife, a mother, a teacher, until finally in middle age, I began to write. I’m still all of those things and more.

My essay, “Auvillar’s Secret” was a finalist in the Tiferet Journal Writing Contest 2016. “Houses,” was a notable essay for Best Of The Net, 2014. “Hiding,” was named a notable essay of 2013 and listed in Best American Essays of 2013. “Circling My Father,” won the Michael Steinburg Essay Award. Other essays have won awards from the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, the Soul Making Keats Literary Competition, Press 53 and New Letters. My work has appeared in Ploughshares, Creative Nonfiction, the New England Review, Ascent, Stone Voices and CALYX, among others. I have taught writing at the University of New Hampshire and at the University of Maine-Farmington.

My current work, Disrupting Silence: Unearthing Stories of Jewish Women in Vichy France, is a memoir of loss, terror, willed forgetting and repair. At the center of this book are the stories of women, Germaine Poliakov, Yvonne Lieser, Valerie Fert and myself. We are Jewish. They are French; I am American. I weave our stories to tell a tale of war, Jews and Vichy France. I am drawn to life’s larger questions: who am I? who are you? what is truth? what do you want in life, and what will you pay to get it?


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