Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Virgins by Caryl Rivers : Review

Available as an e-book at Amazon
or Barnes and Noble.

In a word: enjoyable.

Our narrator/protagonist Peg voices the episodic tale in an often-comic, candid tone, and our author, Caryl Rivers, negotiates each chapter's arc with sure-handed pacing and natural dialogue, crafting pleasing situational comedy and teen drama.  The "big questions" of teen life today are here for the exploring, as are concerns particular to young people growing up in strong religious traditions during eras of political upheaval and social change.

I suspect that this coming-of-age novel, set primarily in a Catholic girls' high school in the '50's, would entertain just about anyone who knows anyone who grew up Catholic, and many who don't as well.  Fans of "period fiction" and lightly humorous page-turners will find this book appealing too. (I'm thinking that Janet Evanovich fans might take to this one based on narrative voice, for example, although it's not in the mystery genre.)

I'd recommend this reprint of an '80's "classic" to anyone who appreciates a novel that's frank and immediate and easy-to-read.  Personally, I think that some of the explicit (though not egregious) sexual content would be more appropriate for adults and late teens than the younger "YA" set, but other than that, this novel should still hold a wide appeal as a "slice of life" from an era gone by.

I'm grateful to Ms. Rivers and TLC Book Tours for offering me the opportunity to enjoy and then review this novel, and I look forward to reading other reviewers' reactions on this Virgins Virtual Book Tour.


Action:  I'm going to ask my mom how some of the experiences depicted in the novel - particularly the rebellious pranks and the characters' internal conflicts around politics and religion - compare with her own experiences in a much smaller Catholic girls' school in roughly the same time period.  I've not yet probed her much about her high school years, so I'm glad that this novel heightened my curiosity about that period in her life.

p.s.  In deciding whether or not to sample Virgins, I perused Rivers's bio, and found myself impressed.  Perhaps you will be too, and then decide to give the novel a go:

About Caryl Rivers (from the TLC website)
Caryl Rivers has been called “one of the brightest voices in contemporary fiction.” Her novel Virgins was an international critical success, published in the US, UK, Sweden, Germany and Japan. It was on many best seller lists and in paperback (Pocket Books) sold more than a million copies. Her novels deal with American women trying to find a foothold in a rapidly changing world. She was included in the book Feminists Who Changed America from the University of Illinois Press.
She is a nationally known author, journalist, media critic and professor of Journalism at Boston University. In 2007 she was awarded the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for distinguished journalism. She is the author of four novels and nine works of non-fiction, all critically acclaimed. Her books have been selections of the Book of the Month Club, Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club and Troll Book club. The Chicago Tribune says of her,  “Few other writers are as funny as she, and none funnier. Yet she is capable of wrenching your heart and soul.”  There are film offers in place for the new edition of Virgins.
Her articles have appeared in the New York Times magazine, Daily Beast, Huffington post, Salon, The Nation, Saturday Review, Ms., Mother Jones, Dissent, McCalls, Glamour, Redbook, Rolling Stone, Ladies Home Journal and many others. She writes frequent commentary for the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and Womensenews. Of her book Selling Anxiety: How the News Media Scare Women, Gloria Steinem says it “will save the sanity of media watchers enraged or bewildered by the distance between image and reality.”
She has co-authored four books with Dr. Rosalind Barnett, senior scientist at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis—the latest (2011) being The Truth About Girls and Boys: Confronting Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children. Articles based on the book won a Casey medal for distinguished journalism about children and families and a special citation from the National Education Writers association.


Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Ms. Rivers is certainly an impressive woman! Glad you enjoyed this book.

Thanks for being on the tour.

spitzspeak said...

Hi Laurie! I wanted to say that I really appreciate your approach here of finding a way to personally connect with your reading by choosing definite steps for action. That's so smart and interesting and admirable! If you're interested, here's a link to my review of Virgins:

Happy Reading,


Laurie said...

Thanks for stopping by, you two.
And thanks for your support, Drennan.
I'm off to visit your blog, and will keep on "action reading"!

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