Reading Frenzy

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Girls of Tender Age: A Memoir

Girls of Tender Age by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith

In this stunning memoir, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith tells of growing up in the 1950's in a working class, French-Italian family in Hartford, Connecticut, characterized by the first line: "Here is how my father describes our socioeconomic level: Working Stiffs."

In the 1950's in Hartford, life was not always easy for Mary-Ann. Her older brother, Tyler is autistic and an idiot savant, neither of which were defined or understood. All they knew was that he was crazy and self-destructive, and much of his care fell to dad. Mom, who barely held onto her own sanity, worked outside the home and found other pursuits to keep her away. The household had to be kept quiet or Tyler would fall into rages and begin chewing his wrists.

Life takes a pivitol turn when Mary-Ann is in fifth grade. A classmate is sexually assaulted and murdered by a serial predator in their neighborhood, and as was so common in the fifties, the crime was swept under the carpet by worried parents and not allowed to be spoken of by anyone, including their teachers. In stark contrast to today, there were no grief counselors, no explanations, and no healing process, and Mary-Ann buried the murder and loss of her friend along with part of her childhood years. Later, a college professor, and then the murdered girl's brother are instrumental in Mary-Ann's decision to write this memoir and find justice for Irene. Highly recommended--this is going to go down as one of my favorites.

2 Comments:

At 11:22 PM, Blogger ~ nellenelle said...

I will be bookhunting tomorrow, and thank you for your recommendations! I shall make note before heading for B & N...

A follow up to Labyrinth. Just finished, tears in eyes. This... just became my favourite book of all time.

 
At 2:00 PM, Blogger Kate said...

I think you'd like this--even though I didn't grow up on the east coast, being a child of the fifties, born of working class parents, a lot of this book hit home with me.

Thanks for the recommendation of Labrinth, who could not pick up a book that is deemed a "favorite?"

 

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