Becoming Myself: Reflections on Growing Up Female

Willa Shalit, Editor . Hyperion $22.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4013-0139-2

Sculptor and Vagina Monologues producer Shalit asked a group of celebrities and writers to recall a significant memory of growing up female. The result is an uneven collection of 67 short pieces, with unfocused or perfunctory contributions by such notables as J.K. Rowling, Kate Winslet, Vanessa Williams, Brooke Shields and Janis Ian. A few of the pieces, such as those by Patti LaBelle, Rue McClanahan and Lily Tomlin are frustratingly short. Longer and more literary pieces by Joyce Carol Oates, Kitty Carlisle Hart and Tawni O'Dell stand out as moving, thought provoking and completely to the point. Oates writes about her disturbing experiences as a sexually naïve undergraduate in the late 1950s trying to navigate the chaotic rituals of a fraternity party at which her drunken female peers were taking sexual risks. In an affectionately comic piece, actress Hart, born into a comfortable New Orleans family in 1910, describes how she suffered and evolved under a domineering but loving mother, while O'Dell paints a stark picture of herself as a tough, sensitive 10-year-old in the 1970s coal-mining region of western Pennsylvania, coming to grips with the critical difference in girls' and boys' natures. (Apr. 18)

Reviewed on: 02/06/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-4013-0895-7
Hardcover - 363 pages - 978-0-7862-8976-9
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