Autobiography of Us: A Novel

Autobiography of Us: A Novel

by Aria Beth Sloss
4.0 14

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Overview

Autobiography of Us: A Novel by Aria Beth Sloss

A gripping debut novel about friendship, loss and love; a confession of what passed between two women who met as girls in 1960s Pasadena, California
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. Decades later, Rebecca's haunting meditation on the past reveals the truth about that night, the years that followed, and the friendship that shaped her.

Autobiography of Us by Aria Beth Sloss 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805095357
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 02/05/2013
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 204,868
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Aria Beth Sloss is a graduate of Yale University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is a recipient of fellowships from the Iowa Arts Foundation, the Yaddo Corporation, and the Vermont Studio Center, and her writing has appeared in Glimmer Train, the Harvard Review, and online at The Paris Review and FiveChapters. She lives in New York City.
Aria Beth Sloss is a graduate of Yale University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop.  She is a recipient of fellowships from the Iowa Arts Foundation, the Yaddo Corporation, and the Vermont Studio Center, and her writing has appeared in Glimmer Train, the Harvard Review, and online at The Paris Review and FiveChapters. She is the author of Autobiography of Us. She lives in New York City.

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Autobiography of Us 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Transplanted_Southerner More than 1 year ago
This novel was marketed as a story about friends. I picked it up because the bathing suits, hair styles and sunglasses on the cover reminded me of “Mad Men.” So if you’re not a “Mad Men” or “The Help” fanatic who can’t get enough of how men and women operated in the 50’s and 60’s, you may find my review unhelpful. But if you are, I think the book has more strengths than weaknesses. The story picks up in the latter half of the 50’s, when two pre-teen girls become friends. One is flamboyant and aspires to become an actress/singer/entertainer type. Her more reserved sidekick gets interested in the sciences and leans toward medicine. Both ambitions derail, due largely but not entirely to the gender related stereotypes that Society pressured women of past generations to re-enforce. I think the book does a more than adequate job of chronicling their derailment. I give a less than perfect rating for two reasons: 1. I found the narrative jerky in a few places. There were some examples—not many—where seemingly out-of-context things happened and I had to re-read to make sure I hadn’t missed something. 2. Character motivations were sometimes unclear. In one particular instance, the aspiring doctor/scientist with the un-talkative personality starts to ask direct questions when a male professor refuses to recommend her for medical school. As readers we get no insight on how this wallflower suddenly becomes assertive, and afterward, we get very little on why she never asserts herself again. For “Mad Men” fans, however, I still recommend it. The thirteen episode seasons are just too short.
7LakesReader More than 1 year ago
This book was not what expected. I could not identify with the characters at all. The characters seemed mean spirited. It was most definately not a feel good book.
AHHP More than 1 year ago
Loved this book.  Read it in one sitting
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
FurmanAK More than 1 year ago
Rationally I understand that childhood friendships often spring up spontaneously: an unlikely alliance, a shared neighborhood - but I think at fourteen, when Alex and Rebecca meet, there should be something more concrete expressed, especially since they are complete polar opposites. I was craving some sort of episode in the beginning of the novel - before we fast-forward 4-5 years and start seeing the cracks - that would really cement this friendship as plausible, aside from Alex randomly picking Rebecca the second she enters the classroom as a new student. Some perilous episode, perhaps, as perilous as high school dramas could be, where we see Alex's humanity and what attracts her and Rebecca to each other aside from the glamorous diva/sounding board dynamic. The novel does come to life later on, and I was interested in what happens to Rebecca, how she relates to the "history happening around her", how her opinions change. I thought one of the most interesting and vividly portrayed characters was her mother. But I could never quite feel the weight of the friendship between Rebecca and Alex, which was supposed to have influenced Rebecca's life so profoundly. To repeat myself, I guess, I wanted to have see Alex really sticking up for Rebecca in the beginning and at some moments throughout, so that their estrangement would feel more painful and visceral. It is was: I missed nothing about their friendship because I'd really seen nothing of it. When they reunited, it also felt jarring. In addition, motivations of both of the main characters were hard to see - they seemed to have given up on their dreams way too easily. The supporting cast was pretty flat. Rebecca's voice, however, is engaging, and the descriptions of the era and well-written and interesting. Ultimately, I think this book fell way short of its premise and potential.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not recommended.  The author gets the period all wrong, and the plot depends on the time in which the characters grow up and live. The protagonist goes to college in 1962 and hides her intellectual abilities and her career aspirations.  No college woman did that in  post-Pill in 1961.  However, the intelligent and educated characters in this book appear to be completely unaware of this world-changing chemical!  That's only the beginning of what's wrong with this story of simpering "victims." 
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Autobiography of Us is a bittersweet tale of two women facing the world in a time when life was much simpler yet oh so challenging. Aria Beth Sloss’ debut novel introduces beautiful and effervescent Alexandria Carrington to subdued Rebecca Madden. The place is 1960s Pasadena, California. Windridge College for Women is on their horizon; their beacon to make a difference once it is behind them and they are out in the world. Windridge wasn’t a platform for girls to aspire and achieve greatness. Rather it was a place that educated the next generation of young women of their necessary roles in life. It would equip them with a tool bag filled with proper elocution while instilling them with confidence toward the essence of precision sewing. Upon graduation, each woman would have the mental “how to” guide filled with the quintessentially perfect housewife and eventual motherhood information. What if Alex had aspirations toward becoming the next Hollywood icon and Rebecca, a brilliant doctor? In their junior year and on one particular night, an incident occurs. Thanks to Bertrand Lowell, Alex and Rebecca’s hopes and dreams are quashed. In the aftermath, a tangible wedge is driven between the two girls and the friendship they once had; a wedge that changes the courses of their lives forever.Aria Beth Sloss developed a familiar plot: two girls coming of age with all the hopes and dreams of achieving the lives they believed they were destined to have. What makes her novel stand out is she took the premise of changing times and a world that continues to unfold around us and anchors it with unique characters. She infuses emotion with her gifted style by raising awareness toward the importance of best friends forever and how easily it can crumble. Ms. Sloss creates a melancholy believability through her artfully placed words via situations and happenings tangibly real. She has a notable patience in playing out the plot; focusing on minor victories at the same time exposing the harsh disappointments because of those victories. I interpret her dedication: “For Dan, who told me so” as her way of delivering not only a haunting message of affirmation, but a personal realization that Autobiography of Us is a story she was destined to write for the audience waiting to read it. Her writing provides the perfect balance of escape and comfort with credibility throughout. In my opinion, she has achieved what many authors aspire to achieve; the accomplishment of telling a story that was meant to be told. No doubt, her driving inspiration was a clear vision of her intended audience. I say well done Ms. Sloss because I believe you achieved just that. Hopefully, this is only the beginning of your writing journey. Quill Says: Autobiography of Us is a heartfelt rendition as much about the importance of friendship as it is about its harsh realities and vulnerabilities.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Here at later date
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ryla where are you? please reply.