top of page

Getting Over Vivian
..a memoir

“Our town seemed deserted. But dwelling in that isolation we began to dream. A run-down, gold-rush-era mansion became a venue for punk rock bands. Empty warehouses became artist studios and the once unremarkable-seeming dive bars and diners deep within the city became our gathering places, our churches where we defined our own religions…when Denver was our city.”

That’s the world local writer Jill Carstens recalls so eloquently in her new memoir, Getting Over Vivian, which briefly touches on that volcanic era of Denver’s underground art communities as a backdrop to her own personal story.

Back then, the streets of what is now known as LoHi were quiet and empty, but artists were teeming inside the hulking brick buildings lining Platte Street, claiming studio space with few restrictions.

- Susan Froyd, Westword, Jan. 12. 2024


Through my personal narrative in Getting Over Vivian I attempt, in part, to validate the connections between place and identity. Gripping tightly to visions of my lost childhood, as an adult I unearth Third Places in a remote Denver; coffee houses, jazz clubs and the city’s first brewpub provide nurturing environments as I begin to map out an uncertain life. My memoir presents a Colorado life offering the universal themes of belonging and community in a world that is becoming exceedingly temporary.

"Getting Over Vivian takes readers through Denver’s economic ups and downs, as Carstens experienced them, and to places that will feel familiar to readers who have lived in the area a while — El Chapultepec, Wynkoop Brewing Company, Common Grounds coffeehouse and more... Getting Over Vivian is a story of family, love and loss set against a backdrop of familiar Front Range settings. And it’s a story about a changing place and the people who live, or lived, there."—Kathryn White, The Denver North Star

"This book is the essence of memoir and will capture readers everywhere because, as James Joyce said, “In the particular is contained the universal.” Jill Carstens beautifully evokes her special place with the people and the stories of that place, and so, we find ourselves, our people, our stories, and our places within hers."  - Brian Mandabach, Amazon 5 star review


My memoir emphasizes the importance of nurturing places that become integral parts of our identity. As local folks have read my book, the subject of gentrification has been discussed. Several of us put our concerns about gentrification into action as we recently rallied for historic preservation of some iconic buildings in Denver:

bottom of page