Marion author speaks at NMC

Linda Kelley (right)
Linda Kelley (right)

MARION -- Marion author and educator, Linda Kelley, was a speaker Friday at the Lifelong Learning Campus Day at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City.

Her presentation examined the roles and rights of Third World women and the cultural conflicts that arise as they become aware of the freedom and opportunities enjoyed by women in many nations.

Few in the area are more qualified than Kelley to address the topic. Drawing upon extensive travel and fifty years of study and observation of women in other cultures, she explored the status and struggles of Third World women.

Her lifelong interest in women’s issues began early. As a teenager, she traveled with her missionary parents to Papua New Guinea where she observed firsthand the subordinate place of women in a patriarchal society.

Kelley witnessed the consequences of the low status of girls in the practice of ‘bride price,’ a prevalent tradition of offering girls as brides in exchange for money or other payment.

The high suicide rate among the ‘brides,’ who are frequently abused and mutilated, inspired Kelley to write “Toropo: The Tenth Wife,” a novel about the fate of many victims of bride price.

All the events in the novel happened in real life, to different girls, and Kelley uses the fictional story of Toropo to portray the bleak, and often tragic, lives of the ‘brides’ of Papua New Guinea.

Kelley became fluent in the local dialect, Imbo Ungu, the language of her first two books, and served as a translator and interpreter.

She has also written books in English including “MKs: Missionary Kids and Their Playmates,” an absorbing account of her farewell to friends and family in America, the voyage to Papua New Guinea and her early years in a strange new country.

Kelley spent many years as a teacher of both children and adults in Papua New Guinea, Ukraine and Dominican Republic. Locally, she has taught at the Muskegon River Youth Home in Evart and Baker College in Cadillac.

Her latest book, “Susannah: Puritan, Indian,” was recently released and is available on In 1643, a Puritan family was killed in New York by the native Siwanoy. Only 9-year old Susannah survived. She was taken captive and the novel relates her story.

To speak with Kelley about her experiences or place a book order, contact her at (231) 629-0976 or by email,