Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 10 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

It was quite an intersting and feminist read, which I enjoy very much. I think the writing was good. the setting and the times were reflected vividly. 
I'd recommend it as an entertaining and thought provoking red about beauty and people's assumptions about beautiful women at the time. 

Thanks a lot Netgalley and the publisher for this copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Amazing to think that this book is 30 years old. It just feels so terrifyingly current. I can see how it must have been quite shocking to an audience at the time, even though virtually everything she describes is perfectly standard stuff in the life of a woman. 

The protagonist feels genuine. She is not a saint, and I don't think you need to like her to enjoy this, although other reviewers disagree. Newsflash: Women don't have to be nice to be interesting!

I hadn't heard of this until it popped up on Netgalley, I am glad it is getting a resurgence now. It is a reminder of how far we have come and how much further we have to go.
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Set in the 5os-60s we follow the life of Sasha as she navigates her life amidst men that feel entitled to her, men that feel superior to her and men that believe they deserve more than her purely due to their gender. As a woman I recognised the harassment she faced and the discrimination she encountered, even the delicately entwined experiences she faced that perhaps aren't blindingly obvious to all who read the book. 

I feel conflicted writing this review as I understand the importance of this book, yet I also didn't feel a connection to or even like Sasha at certain points in the narrative. I grappled with a young white female character who lived with an abundance of privilege trying to wrestle with the unfairness of being a woman in a world catered to men. We've become much more educated and empathetic to so many issues around us since this book was written, so I feel my opinion is quite skewed in comparison to what readers thought and loved about this book upon its release back in the 70s. Yes, what she encountered was something no woman should ever have to experience, yet at the same time she got to experience so much (travel, education etc.) due to her social standing and the colour of her skin. Unfortunately there are still too many circumstances of what Sasha experienced unfolding in our world today. Regardless of how far we believe we have advanced, it's always wise to reflect on how much further we still have to go and to not become complacent. Definitely an important book for it's generation, the era in which it was written and a memoir that has become an influential building block for female writers and commentators who came after.
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A different style, but I enjoyed reading this. I think it's an interesting read, feels experimental and reflects the 1970 spirit really well (although I wasn't alive then, it felt like it!)
It's a coming of age story in a sense, but also a struggle to survive in a world where being beautiful is the real deal- no one cares about what's inside your head.
I found the start a bit difficult to get into, but overall it was an entertaining read. I can't say that blew my socks off (3.5 stars would be my answer if you push for a star rating) but if you're interested in feminist books, definitely worth picking up!
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This was originally published in 1972, although the bulk of the novel's events are set in the 1950s and 1960s.  The story covers the period in one woman's life between being made teen beauty queen at age 15 and being a mother in her early 30s.  The main character, Sasha Davis, is beautiful and sees her life defined by her looks - she becomes quite obsessed with people finding her attractive and the idea of losing her beauty as she ages, ideas prevalent in the 1950s American society in which she lives.  Over the course of the novel, she experiences the darker side of life and talks openly about subjects that would have been (and possible still are) taboo: menstruation, sex outside marriage, abortion, female empowerment and ambition, sexuality and divorce.  

You can certainly see why this was a ground-breaking book when it was published in the early 1970s.  The society it depicts, with women treated as second class citizens without drive or independent thought, was the recent past and something the feminist movement was trying to change.  The idea that women wouldn't work after marriage and would become domestic goddesses and models of devoted motherhood were still embedded in society as the traditional ideal.  

What I expected was an outdated snapshot of a time that would feel a million years from the present.  What I actually read was depressingly relevant to modern society.  The recent #MeToo and #Time'sUp movements, as well as ongoing discussions of the gender pay gap and the representation of women in certain industries and at senior levels, show that equality is still a pipe dream.  The things I expected to feel old fashioned about the book still resonated; the obsession with beauty and not ageing, the misogynistic attitudes of some of the men, the sexual double standards...although there has been some progress since the 1950s, it is all still so evident within our own society.  I doubt there is a woman reading this novel who could say they have never encountered some of these supposedly outdated attitudes in recent times.

The book itself is engaging and pacy.  Sasha is an engaging heroine as she navigates her own rather unconventional path through life, although I found the non-linear narrative a bit distracting at times.  

I would recommend this book, but would also suggest that it isn't a comfortable read for those who expect it to be about old-fashioned gender stereotypes.  It feels fresh and lively and current and, above all else, important.  Read it to marvel at how far we have come in some ways, but how little distance we have travelled in others.
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An incredibly interesting and inspiring story. I don’t normally read memoirs but this was hugely Enjoyable and incredibly sad at times. Highly recommended xx
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