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Judy Blunt's Breaking Clean started out as an essay for a literature course at the University of Montana. Her classmates and professor found the work's few pages deeply moving. "For the first time," the author has said, "I felt the power of the written word from the other side, from the writer's side." Now an award-winning book (1997 PEN/Jerard Fund Award for a work in progress, 2001 Whiting Writers' Award), Breaking Clean recounts Blunt's coming of age in the splendor and devastation of northeastern Montana. She shares her reluctant path from prairie child to ranch wife, stopping to divulge how, as an adolescent frightened of oncoming womanhood, she tried to lance her developing breasts. Of course, if Blunt's last stop had been the ranch, a man's world where she was expected to serve her husband, it's doubtful she'd have completed this memoir.