Add to Wish List
In Girls of Tender Age, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith fully
articulates with great humor and tenderness the wild
jubilance of an extended French-Italian family struggling to
survive in a post-World War II housing project in Hartford,
Connecticut. Smith seamlessly combines a memoir whose
intimacy matches that of Angela's Ashes with the tale
of a community plagued by a malevolent predator that holds
the emotional and cultural resonance of The Lovely
Smith's Hartford neighborhood is
small-town America, where everyone's door is unlocked and
the school, church, library, drugstore, 5 & 10, grocery,
and tavern are all within walking distance. Her family is
peopled with memorable characters -- her possibly psychic
mother who's always on the verge of a nervous breakdown, her
adoring father who makes sure she has something to eat in
the morning beyond her usual gulp of Hershey's syrup, her
grandfather who teaches her to bash in the heads of the eels
they catch on Long Island Sound, Uncle Guido who makes the
annual bagna cauda, and the numerous aunts and cousins who
parade through her life with love and food and endless
stories of the old days. And then there's her brother,
Smith's household was "different."
Little Mary-Ann couldn't have friends over because her older
brother, Tyler, an autistic before anyone knew what that
meant, was unable to bear noise of any kind. To him, the
sound of crying, laughing, phones ringing, or toilets
flushing was "a cloud of barbed needles" flying into his
face. Subject to such an assault, he would substitute that
pain with another: he'd try to chew his arm off. Tyler was
Mary-Ann's real-life Boo Radley, albeit one whose
bookshelves sagged under the weight of the World War II
books he collected and read
Hanging over this rough-and-tumble
American childhood is the sinister shadow of an approaching
serial killer. The menacing Bob Malm lurks throughout this
joyous and chaotic family portrait, and the havoc he
unleashes when the paths of innocence and evil cross one
early December evening in 1953 forever alters the landscape
of Smith's childhood.
Girls of Tender
Age is one of those books that will forever change its
readers because of its beauty and power and remarkable wit.
No comments posted.
Registered users may leave comments.
Log in or register now!