Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Review & Giveaway: Autobiography of Us: A Novel by Aria Beth Sloss

about book:

Coming of age in the patrician neighborhood of Pasadena, California, during the 1960s, Rebecca Madden and her beautiful, reckless friend Alex dream of lives beyond their mothers' narrow expectations.  Their struggle to define themselves against the backdrop of an American cultural revolution unites them early on, until one sweltering evening the summer before their last year of college, when a single act of betrayal changes everything.

Autobiography of Us is an achingly beautiful portrait of a decades-long bond.  A rare and powerful glimpse into the lives of two women caught between repression and revolution, it casts new light on the sacrifices, struggles, victories, and defeats of a generation.

my thoughts:

When I first started this book, I wasn't sure I was going to like it.  Even now that I've finished it, I'm still not sure how I feel about it.  I do know that it made me think about friendships, the 60s, and feminism - all of which are interesting topics in and of themselves.  Plus, being a feminist I found a lot of the situations that occurred in the book to be rather shocking and quite revelatory of a time period that I clearly knew nothing about.  I'm referring to women attending college for their MRS degree; men being referred to as 'filthy' instead of  'rapist'; women being sent away for nine months when they got knocked up; cooking and dance classes being a part of a women's curriculum in high school - seriously!?!  Then again, it wasn't all that surprising to me -  I had heard of MRS degrees - its something we would joke about it college.  And who hasn't heard of home ec, but some of the other things, lets just say that I was OMGing quite a bit.

This book was quiet, tense, and very well written.  It startled me at times, with its honest portrayal of relationships - loveless marriages, dysfunctional friendships, dishonest parents; and it also taught me a lot about the limits placed on women, both in and out of the home.  I found it horrible that professors refused to refer women to medical school and instead urged them to attend nursing school; I couldn't believe that feminists (who were fighting for equality) would judge other women so harshly (the women who got married and had children) - what happened to sisterhood?  And, I honestly couldn't believe that Rebecca and Alex were friends - the way they spoke to one another and the secrets they kept, along with the ways in which they betrayed one another were just horrible.  It made me sad to think that Rebecca valued this one friendship so much, when it appeared as if Alex could care less about their relationship.  I kept thinking about 'toxic relationships' and how this friendship epitomized that phrase so accurately.  Overall, I found this story to be rather mesmerizing and found the end to be rather surprising.

Autobiography of Us is a worthwhile read that I do believe should be experienced by fans of women's fiction.  Its an unputdownable read that will not disappoint. Check it out!

giveaway: (US residents only)

Luckily for one reader, I have a copy of  Autobiography of Us by Aria Beth Sloss to give away!!  Actually, its more of a double win - you win two copies, one for you and one for your best friend.  Pretty cool, eh?  All you have to do is leave me a comment - don't forget to include your email so that I contact you in case you win.  Last day to enter is February 15th.  Good luck!!


Sally said...

Wow. I had never even heard of this book and now I'm adding it right to my GoodReads! Thanks for the awesome review Nadia, and also the chance to win :)

Sally said...

Oops, Sally again. Email is sjl446(at)nyu(dot)edu

Nadia said...

Sally, good luck! And yes, this book is so good! You will love it!!

Beth said...

This sounds really good! I didn't know about a lot of the things you added either. A MRS degree? Wow. Just shows how far we've come and how far we have to go! Great review. I'll add this to the tbr.

Kirsten said...

Thanks for the great review. Definitely a book I would like to read and win!

Rebecca @ Love at First Book said...

This book sounds really interesting! I like the idea of reading about something that is so foreign to me (like an mrs degree) but yet still hits close to home (women's issues).

I'd love to win a copy!!!


The Relentless Reader said...

You make me want to read everything you review! :D Sign me up for the giveaway, I'd loooove to read this! Jhartling74(at)aol.com

picky said...

This sounds so good.

I get the reaction you had, but I also think it's really hard to be able to judge the motivations of the women trying so hard to change the world. We just can't get it, not really.

Sadly, when I was first going to college, plenty of girls were still really serious about the MRS degree. But I lived in a small town where virtually everyone married by 22.

Nadia said...

Beth, you will enjoy it! And its crazy, isn't - MRS degree!

Kirsten, thanks and good luck!

Rebecca, exactly! That is why the book is so relatable - even though some of what you learn is foreign, it hits close to home. Such a great read! Good luck!

Jennifer, Thanks! Ditto to you :) Good luck!

picky, it really is good. And I know what you mean. I went to a state school and it was huge, but there were still girls who were there just to find a husband. I couldn't believe it when I heard they were after their MRS degree- I just thought that was crazy. I'm from a small town, too and it seems like everyone married their high school sweetheart or whoever they dated in college. I felt so out of place.

Vintage Reading said...

Like the sound of this. Coming of age stories with a female focus are one of my favourite genres.

Nadia said...

Vintage Reading, you would definitely enjoy this one :)

Tom Cunliffe said...

It certainly sounds like a very difficult period of history to have been a woman trying to make her way in a world dominated by men. My daughter and her peers seem to have sailed through many of the difficulties that beset previous generations.

A very good, and even passionate review

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

This one certainly sounds interesting. Love your review. I am very familiar with the idea of an MRS degree. Growing up, I lived in a community where the high school offered home ec for the girls and auto and wood shop for the boys, but everyone, men and women, went to college and rarely did anyone get married before graduating college. Now I live in a community where getting married right out of high school is still the norm. It's quite a radical difference.

I'd love to win this.


Athira said...

I wasn't too sure of this book either and have been looking for a review. Your thoughts make me feel that I would probably enjoy it. I would love to give it a try!

ReadingOnARainyDay at GMAIL dot COM

Nadia said...

Tom, thanks so much :)

Holly, this book was so interesting and good. Definitely makes you think about women's role within society and how it relates to us on a personal level. Good luck!

Aths, definitely give this book a try ;) Good luck!

Lisa said...

I hadn't heard of this one yet - but it does sound like a book that would make an excellent book club choice.

Amie Lout said...

I have just started this book, and I am not quite all the way taken by it yet, but will keep plugging along. I have been on a Women's Fiction Thriller/Mystery kick lately so I guess I need to switch gears! My last read though I have to say is going to be hard to beat, Coming to Rosemont by Barbara Hinske (barbarahinske.com if anyone wants to take a look!) It was gripping and had a really deep character. This one looks to have good characters too, I will give it some more time. These comments help to motivate me to keep on with it! Thanks!