History Lesson for Girls

( 4 )

Overview

In her follow-up to the critically acclaimed novel The Anxiety of Everyday Objects, Aurelie Sheehan presents a moving coming-of-age story set in the disturbingly reckless and often hilariously tacky 1970s. In 1975, Alison Glass, age thirteen, moves to Connecticut with her bohemian parents and her horse, Jazz. Shy, observant, and in a back brace for scoliosis, Alison finds strength in an unlikely friendship with Kate Hamilton, the charismatic but troubled daughter of an egomaniacal New Age guru and his ...

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History Lesson for Girls

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Overview

In her follow-up to the critically acclaimed novel The Anxiety of Everyday Objects, Aurelie Sheehan presents a moving coming-of-age story set in the disturbingly reckless and often hilariously tacky 1970s. In 1975, Alison Glass, age thirteen, moves to Connecticut with her bohemian parents and her horse, Jazz. Shy, observant, and in a back brace for scoliosis, Alison finds strength in an unlikely friendship with Kate Hamilton, the charismatic but troubled daughter of an egomaniacal New Age guru and his substance-loving wife. Seeking refuge from the chaos in their lives, the girls escape into the world of their horses. Rich in humor and heartbreak, History Lesson for Girls is an elegy to a friendship that meant everything.

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Editorial Reviews

People
Poignant ... Sheehan reminds her readers that heartbreak is a requisite part of growing up.
Entertainment Weekly
Sheehan's writing is often bull's-eye perfect.
Los Angeles Times Book Review
This wistful, gentle novel has something surprisingly harsh to say about coming of age in a culture of self-indulgence and spiritual foolishness.
O The Oprah Magazine
Subtle and moving. (O, The Oprah Magazine, summer fiction pick)
Library Journal
Sheehan's first novel, The Anxiety of Everyday Objects, dealt with a young woman seeking direction. Her second book also centers on a young woman recalling a pivotal year in her life. Thirteen-year-old Alison Glass, marked by the scoliosis brace she wears as well as by her nonconformist artist parents and their not-quite-successful transition into suburbia, is destined to be an outsider. She is saved from total isolation and humiliation by Kate Hamilton, a girl gifted with the ability to be different and still belong to the in crowd. The two spend hours together riding horses, Alison free of her brace and Kate free of her abusive parents. As part of a class project, they write about a lost heroine named Sarah, whose story intertwines with their own, revealing their hopes and fears. The girls' friendship is a gift that allows Alison to withstand a year of odd medical treatments and the slow dissolution of her family. It is not quite enough, however, to allow the pair a perfect, happy ending, grounding this compelling coming-of-age story in melancholy. Recommended for public libraries.-Jan Blodgett, Davidson Coll. Lib., NC Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An intelligent, original coming-of-age novel from the author of The Anxiety of Everyday Objects (2004) and Jack Kerouac Is Pregnant (1994). In the fall of 1975, Alison Glass moves from a working-class town to the tony suburb of Weston, Conn., where she begins junior high. Alison enjoys Kurt Vonnegut. Her lunches consist of health-food abominations concocted by her mother. She wears yellow plastic clogs, a floppy hat made of pink corduroy and a back brace. To say that she doesn't fit into her new surroundings is an understatement. But Sheehan makes the wise and refreshing choice to not dwell on the indignities of junior high. Sensitive and perceptive, but not much given to self-pity, Alison is more bemused by the popular than desperate to join them. And she doesn't need jocks and cheerleaders when she has Kate Hamilton. Beautiful, self-assured and quick with a devastating comeback, Kate transcends her school's social scene, and her friendship protects Alison from the worst of its depredations. In any case, blonde girls in Shetland sweaters are nothing compared to the challenges Alison and Kate face at home. Alison's scoliosis may require surgery-despite the brace, despite the New Age remedies her mother insists they try-and her parents' marriage is falling apart. Kate's situation is even more volatile: Her father, Tut, is a self-styled shaman and a sociopath given to cocaine-fueled rages. Sheehan's depiction of Tut is typical of the way she creates all her characters. He's clearly a monster-and his crushingly charismatic presence makes it more or less inevitable that this story will turn to tragedy-but he's never a caricature. This is less loopy than the author's previous work, but herlanguage remains carefully off-kilter, gorgeously specific and shot through with unobtrusive wit. When she considers Kate's hands for the first time, Alison thinks: "Her fingers were long and aristocratic, also a little red and chapped. They were the kind of fingers you'd expect on Joan of Arc or some other capable yet elegant heroine."Lyrical, assured, heartbreaking.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143111900
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/26/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,036,982
  • Product dimensions: 5.06 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Aurelie Sheehan is an assistant professor of fiction at the University of Arizona and the author of the critically acclaimed short story collection Jack Kerouac Is Pregnant. She’s worked in a variety of jobs, some suspiciously secretarial, and has received a Pushcart Prize, a Carmargo Fellowship, and the Jack Kerouac Literary Award.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2006

    It was okay... just depressing, sort of.

    I liked this book but it was not what i expected, it does bring out the truth of upsetting stiuations girls go through. I wouldn't reccomend it to people who cant deal with upsetting storylines.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2008

    True to Life

    This book was one of the most moving I have ever read. It is immensely true to life and beautifully written.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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