The Middle Step

Exploring the intersection of race, poverty, and family in inner-city St. Louis.

Lisa Harris discovers how little she understands about urban poverty when she becomes a foster mother to four teenagers, who have known only sorrow in their lives.

After a series of miscarriages and the failure of her marriage, Lisa Harris, a white, suburban woman, finds herself in deep despair. Eager to embrace parenthood in any way possible, she accepts a job as foster mother in St. Louis to four teenage girls who have been pulled from their homes. Lisa is immediately overwhelmed by the challenges of parenting troubled girls with a vastly different background, culture, religion and race. Yet, doggedly, she stays committed to the job, where she learns that healing herself and others requires more than good intentions. 


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“I’ve just finished THE MIDDLE STEP by Denise Bogard, and it’s moving, thoughtful, authentic … just GOOD.”

– Jacquelyn Mitchard, #1 NYT bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean and Two If By Sea

About the Author

Denise Pattiz Bogard

Denise Pattiz Bogard has been writing professionally for more than 30 years and has had her award-winning fiction and non-fiction published in, among others, The Oklahoma Literary Review, Newsweek, Lady’s Circle, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Teacher Magazine. Two of her essays have been anthologized in Are We Feeling Better Yet? Women’s Encounters with Health Care in America (Penultimate Press, 2008) and Winter Harvest (Brodsky Library Press, 2011).

Her upcoming novel AFTER ELISE has been named a finalist for the prestigious Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Contest, novel category. It is due out in the summer of 2018.

Denise earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and her BS in journalism and history from Indiana University.

She is the founder of St. Louis Writers Workshop and coordinated the writing program at Lift For Life Academy charter middle and high school in downtown St. Louis. Previously, Denise worked as an adjunct professor at Webster University, as a reporter and as a co-founding partner of a full-service public relations agency.

THE MIDDLE STEP is her first novel.

Purchase THE MIDDLE STEP From Left Bank Books