Friday, February 15, 2013

Julie's Review: Autobiography of Us

Summary: 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 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.

Review: Women are complex, therefore our friendships are as well. Any woman can tell you of a complex friendship she's had or might be currently having. I'm finding out as I get older that it never really ends; complexity in friendships. Rebecca is drawn to Alex like a moth to a flame the first day that Alex enters her classroom. They are completely different. Rebecca is the shy bookworm who likes to retreat into herself. Alex is the outgoing, vivacious actress who likes to be the center of attention. I'd say they are unlikely friends, but as a woman I know that you are drawn to those who aren't like you. Dare I say, you are drawn, especially when you are young, to the people you admire or want to be more like?

Overall I would say that Alex and Rebecca didn't have a deep friendship, but a friendship that was built on being needed. Rebecca needed someone she could be with and didn't have to add much to the conversation. Alex needed Rebecca so she could always have a rapt audience. There were times during this novel where I wanted to smack Alex who was so self-absorbed and rude, so she could see that Rebecca would never intentionally betray her. I also wanted to smack Rebecca for letting Alex walk all over her and for discounting her own intelligence.

I loved the way Autobiography of Us was written. I loved that it felt that I was sitting in a restaurant or in a coffee shop listening to Rebecca describe her and Alex's complicated history. I loved that Ms. Sloss threw a little twist in at the end. There was one twist where I wasn't sure if I wholly bought into it in the end. It's not that it isn't plausible, I just didn't get those feeling throughout the novel. Maybe I'm missing something or maybe it's just my viewpoint.

I will definitely be looking forward to whatever Ms. Sloss writes in the future, she is definitely one to watch.

Final Take: 4/5

Thanks to Henry Holt for my ARC of this novel.



Nicole (Linus's Blanket) February 15, 2013 at 1:26 PM  

This is on my list of February releases. Sounds good!

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