BOOK- Girls of Tender Age

Girls of Tender Age, by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, is a memoir set in Hartford, Connecticut during the 1950s. One will find many points of interest and historical facts about Hartford and Old Saybrook. The author does a nice job of describing life in the 1950s, with its throwback to “non-working women” and the mentality of people at that time period. She describes living in Hartford where you “eat guinea food, drink harp beer, ostracize frogs (since, as the most recent immigrants, they are at the bottom of the pecking order)” It is in this working class town, that a serial pedophile shatters the innocence of the community and of the author.

girls-of-tender-ageThe chapters alternate from the life of the stalker pedophile to Mickey’s (Smith’s childhood name) chapters of her youth. One just keeps waiting for when the two lives will intersect. This novel is filled with memorable characters. The close relatives of Mickey’s French-Italian family fill the framework for some fun stories. Her indifferent mom, hardworking dad, and autistic brother make Mickey look like the normal one of the family. Since she is deemed normal, she is often overlooked. This is reflected in her mom’s reaction to Mickey’s Mother’s Day gift to her. “This was much better than the time my second grade class made candleholders for Mother’s Day out of empty Wisk bottles. My mother opened her gift and said … what the hell are those teachers thinking? Then she threw it in the wastebasket.”

All of life changed for Mickey when Bob Malm, the pedophile, abducts and strangles Mickey’s fifth grade classmate, Irene. It occurs just blocks from Mickey’s house. The adults don’t talk about it, so Mickey forgets about it until years later when she writes about the murder. She then begins a quest to research exactly what happened during that time.

This novel is full of crazy funny childhood memories and crime like reporting articles. Its finishing touch shows the loving portrait of the author’s relationship with her parents and brother.

If you like memoirs, I would think you would enjoy this one. I give it a 5-shoe rating. Let me know your thoughts on this book.

The June book reading will be Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn.

Stay tuned for a helpful list of summer reads.

Best Reading,


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