Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


The ratings:
5 stars  excellent
4 stars  very good
3 stars  good
2 stars  fair
1 stars  poor

Blog stats:

Navigate the site:

Books by the Blogger:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

Advertise: Rates & stats

Authors & publishers:
I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Larsen, Ward: The Perfect Assassin | Main | Goldberg, Lee: Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse »

Smith, Mary-Ann Tirone: Girls of Tender Age

  

Printer-friendly page! Use print preview to see how this page will appear.

Free Press © 2006, 289 pages [amazon]
5 stars

Mary-Ann Tirone Smith's Girls of Tender Age is a memoir wrapped around a true crime story. She writes about growing up among the "working stiffs" of 1950's Hartford, Connecticut under less than ideal conditions. Smith's mother was distant and negligent:

"Until I am in first grade, I have no idea that when you are hurt, some people have the urge to hug and comfort you. In the first grade, my fingers get caught in the girls' lavatory door and my teacher, Miss Wells, takes me in her arms and hugs me to her big bosom. I don't understand why this is, a body surrounding mine, pressing sympathy from one heart into another. But my mother is the prototype of a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown."

Her father was a sort of saint who devoted his life to caring for the author's autistic older brother at a time when no one understood that condition. Smith's autobiographical chapters--compelling enough without the introduction of further drama--are interspersed with brief sections, sometimes chillingly succinct, on the career of serial rapist and murderer Bob Malm:

"It was during this time [while in service during World War II] that Bob pursued his interest in forced sexual contact with preadolescent girls; he could only have sex successfully with preadolescent girls and only after terrorizing and hurting them, leaving some of them unconscious, or possibly, dead. A man could get away with this in Okinawa."

Eventually, the two threads of Smith's story meet, tragically, when the author is nine years old.

Eventually, the two threads of Smith's story meet, tragically, when the author is nine years old.Smith's account of Malm's crime and the lasting effect it had on her life is a powerful piece of nonfiction. What impresses me most about her book is that Smith has managed to construct a coherent narrative out of events that she understood so poorly at the time. It would be hard enough to recreate an incident from one's childhood under the best of circumstances: a child doesn't have an adult's appreciation of what's going on; one's memory of an event decades after the fact is confused and incomplete. But the task of reconstruction was made more difficult for Smith because the adults around her at the time of the tragedy adopted a ham-fisted means of dealing with the impact of Malm's crime on the children involved. They dealt with it by not dealing with it, by suppressing information and prohibiting discussion. So Smith's task in researching and writing her story, supplementing her imperfect memory with hard fact, was a prodigious one.

The result, at any rate, is an honest account of Smith's life in particular and, more generally, of a certain lifestyle--"small-town" Hartford in the 50s, children playing in the streets until dusk, large immigrant families and coal furnaces and and a now alien-seeming approach to child rearing. Girls of Tender Age is by turns funny and tragic and horrifying and gripping. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Review summary: Mary-Ann Tirone Smith's Girls of Tender Age is a memoir wrapped around a true crime story. She writes about growing up among the "working stiffs" of 1950's Hartford, Connecticut under less than ideal conditions: Smith's mother was distant and negligent, while her father was a sort of saint who devoted his life to caring for the author's autistic older brother at a time when no one understood that condition. Smith's autobiographical chapters--compelling enough without the introduction of further drama--are interspersed with brief sections, sometimes chillingly succinct, on the career of serial rapist and murderer Bob Malm. Eventually, the two threads of Smith's story meet, tragically, when the author is nine years old. Smith's account of Malm's crime and the lasting effect it had on her life is a powerful, impressive piece of nonfiction.

Tags: , , , , ,

< Tweet it! | Reblog
https://www.book-blog.com/2007/01/smith_maryann_t.html
Book-blog.com reviews by Debra Hamel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Comments




Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In


About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






The Sunday Salon.com



Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.