VOX Hosts Melissa Febos, Author of Abandon Me


Melissa Febos, guest speaking for VOX. Photo by Carmen Ballon

Carmen Ballon, Social Media Manager

Critically acclaimed author Melissa Febos visited Thursday to be a guest speaker for the VOX Arts and Literacy Journal (VOX) reading series. Butcher Suite was filled with curious students listening to her memoir Abandon Me, an essay collection.

Abandon Me, an in-depth memoir of Febos’s life, depicts a personal narrative from childhood to adulthood, while exploring identity through numerous essays.

The series began with a personal story of Febos recounting her adoptive father attending a reading for her book tour. However, Febos was conflicted by this gesture because of the graphic content in the memoir.

“It is an alternating series of meditations and sorrows of my childhood,” Febos said.

Even though the content was personal, the author felt extremely comfortable throughout the reading.

Febos read four essays from her collection, which slowly revealed her past life.

Febos compared publishing her darkest secrets to her inspiration Michelangelo.

“I saw the angel in stone and carved to set it free,” Febos said.

Febos felt her book was a way of understand and letting go of her past, which is compared to the angel being set free.

From a young age, Febos felt passionate about reading and writing.

“When I was reading, I stopped existing,”Febos said.

Febos enjoyed reading and writing because it was her outlet of relief and her time to forget about the present. Febos always felt as an outsider, having many emotions, and disliking school. Living in Cape Cod, under her sea captain father’s roof and Psychotherapist mother, she felt as though she no one ever understood her.

To follow her passion, Febos skipped school and read during her off times. Slowly, Febos was kicked out of school, but this did not stop her from living her dream of being a writer.

“I was at the stage when people asked, what do you wanna be when you grow up? I already had an answer, I was going to be a writer. It seemed like the only thing that I was qualified to do,”Febos said.

After dropping out of high school, Febos moved to Boston, where she supported herself and attended non-credited classes at Harvard University. During this period, Febos became a heroin addict.

“I had an intense double life…my impulse was to treat the way my mind worked too fast, my feelings, and how overwhelmed I felt,” Febos said.

Febos was a highly functional addict for a while. Her double life, became her secret life, which made her quit the addiction.

“I began to feel smaller, I had this secret power, and realized no one would know if something happened to me,”Febos said.

10 years later, Febos is sober, traveling the nation to tell her story of overcoming her past and understanding her feelings.

Febos hopes that young writers continue to strive for their goal.

“Keep going and be brave. Don’t ever be afraid,” Febos said.

Febos allowed students to have a deeper look on her life, her accomplishments, and her thoughts. Febos hopes that readers will learn to be comfortable in their skin and to reflect on their experiences.