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Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen

3.44  ·  Rating Details ·  672 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
Twenty-five years after it first shocked readers nationwide, this landmark book continues to hit home with its eye-opening portrayal of growing up female in middle-class America.Described by The New York Times as "the voice that has for three decades provided a lyrical narrative of the changing position of women in American society", Alix Kates Shulman takes a wry look in ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 1st 1997 by Penguin Books (first published 1972)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jessica
Apr 21, 2007 Jessica rated it liked it
Recommends it for: men who are fascinated by how (albeit fictional) women think; feminist-minded girls or women
When I read this book in high school, I just was too inexperienced to understand it. I didn't really understand what date rape was, or what it's like to meld your identity in that of your guy's, or to feel like no matter how smart you are, what matters more is that you're pretty. I might have liked the book as a piece of fiction then, but I didn't *understand* it. I heard that the book reached it's 30th anniversary, I decided to read it again. Now, I read it with different eyes and appreciated ...more
Wild Women Reviews
Aug 16, 2009 Wild Women Reviews rated it really liked it
All I have to say about this book is...the more things change, the more things stay the same. This feminist novel from the early 70s chronicles tells the tale of an intelligent ex-prom queen. Many of the themes that she faced in the 1950s and 60s are still being faced by many women today: 1) sexual harassment in the workplace; 2) being taken advantage of by young and older men; 3) out of wedlock pregnancy; 4) abortion; 5) societal expectations on women to marry and have children, and so on. It's ...more
Therese
Jul 27, 2009 Therese rated it it was amazing
Why have I never heard of this book? It's brilliant. I'll be thinking of pieces of it for years.

Sasha is a vain short-sighted slut. She's also a brilliant, solitary philosopher who understands exactly who she is. She is abused by men in a horrible pre-sexual revolution world (was it really that bad? Unbearable if true), and always begs for more. She's selfish to an epic degree, while all the while being very thoughtful and generous in her sociopathy. She grows into a mother who will sacrifice he
...more
Kaye
Jul 18, 2007 Kaye rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism
This was an interesting novel that addressed the helpless feelings of women during the 1950's-1960's, when all one could hope for is to become a wife of someone successful. Our heroine is a product of her time, and while she is intelligent, her real sense of value comes from her looks. It is grieviously important to her to know that men find her attractive. She finds that slipping into the ascribed roles of wife, and later mother don't make her any more secure. The anxiety then surrounds a kind ...more
Michele
Jul 31, 2012 Michele rated it it was ok
I added this to my to-read shelf because it is overwhelmingly lauded as a brilliant feminist novel. And at times I did strongly relate--I can see how in the 70s some of the topics could have been seen as eye-opening. However, the protagonist is unbearably insipid, the story contradictory in far too many places, and ultimately I just didn't care enough to want to finish.
Steph
Jul 29, 2008 Steph rated it did not like it
While I loved this author's autobiographical memoir, Drinking the Rain, this book was tediously insipid. I couldn't finish it.
HeavyReader
Jun 22, 2007 HeavyReader rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one, really
Shelves: fiction
To me, this book is the story of a young woman ruining her life. I wasn't excited about the writing style or the story.

Warning: Sexual assault in this book may trigger some folks.
Jonna
Apr 08, 2010 Jonna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I didn't actually read this: I quit after three chapters. While the writing was quite nice, I found myself so depressed that I simply could not continue.
Elizabeth
Dec 03, 2009 Elizabeth rated it did not like it
Shelves: adult, fiction
Depressing. In fact, I think my book-related crabbiness sparked at least one argument with Sam.
Silvia80
Apr 24, 2015 Silvia80 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La 24 enne Sasha prende la decisione di partire, andare in Spagna per mettere alla prova la propria indipendenza e riuscire a cavarsela da sola. Sente di aver buttato via la sua gioventù, di essere chiusa in una gabbia, composta solo da un marito possessivo e concentrato sempre sul lavoro. Se tutto prosegue come da progetto, non tornerà più.
Sei mesi dopo, questa iniziativa è fallita. Sul treno dell'andata conosce Manolo, membro di una compagnia di piccoli attori. E' con lui che la sua avventura
...more
Kate
Oct 27, 2014 Kate rated it liked it
See my full review here: http://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.wor...

Seems that every second person in my Twitter feed is reading (or talking about) Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl. While everyone else has been busy getting stuck into Dunham, I wound the memoir-clock back to what is considered one of the first novels to emerge from the Women’s Liberation Movement (according to the Oxford Companion to Women’s Writing) – Alix Kates Shulman’s Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen.

Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen,
...more
Maile
Jan 07, 2013 Maile rated it really liked it
First book of 2013, and this wasn't what I was expecting. In a good way.

I downloaded this for my ereader months ago, then promptly forgot about it. It was only the other night, when I couldn't sleep, that I reached for my iPad and saw this title staring back at me.

I often go into books blind, and this was no exception. I was drawn in by the title alone. The first chapter did not impress me. I enjoyed the writing style, sure, but I wasn't captivated by the story of Sasha. A woman of twenty four t
...more
Zefi
Apr 27, 2015 Zefi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Considered a feminist classic, this book will surely be more exciting to those with an interest in feminism and women's rights. That being said, it is not a didactic book nor a feminist sermon.

Sasha narrates her journey from childhood into adulthood, as a white American woman living in the 1940s and 1950s. Obsessed with her physical appearance and at the same time very competent intellectually, Sasha faces the sexual double standard of her era, sometimes with triumph, sometimes with disaster.
I l
...more
Dorota Skrzypek
Nov 08, 2014 Dorota Skrzypek rated it really liked it
There were a lot of things I liked about this book. For being written in 1969 it had a shocking honesty and intensity about what turning from girl to woman in the fifties and sixties felt like. There were many moments I laughed out loud at the heroine's blunt thoughts on her gender, friendship, school, work, and sexual discoveries. There were also many moments I sympathized with her, even though I went from girl to woman twenty years later. Certain things about being a woman will probably never ...more
Carolyn Bunkley
Oct 04, 2012 Carolyn Bunkley rated it it was amazing
Not what I expected, but in a good way. This is a good story of a young woman coming of age at the end of the era when a woman's sole purpose was to get married and have children, when beauty was prized over brains.
Sasha struggles first to fit in, then to become her own person on her own terms. Her methods may be questionable, but that's because she bases her sole worth on her beauty and desirability. When she discovers philosophy and begins to question the boundaries on her restrictive world,
...more
D. Thrush
Jun 01, 2016 D. Thrush rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a great feminist book, and by “feminist” I don’t mean the exclusion of men, I mean an understanding of the experience of being a woman not that long ago. Sasha grew up in the 40s and 50s. Life was very different for women then, and they didn’t have the choices we have now. Most women married and had children and stayed home to be homemakers. If they went to college, it was to find a husband. Sasha is obsessed with being beautiful throughout her life because that was the biggest source of ...more
Marie
Nov 27, 2012 Marie rated it liked it
This is a tough one. I, being completely dense sometimes, had no idea how old this book was, so to start, I was not completely impressed - I assumed it was someone writing this book as of recent, about their past and I did not find anything more wonderful about this story than others. Theeennn I realized the author wrote this book back when it was not so cool to state these facts, or to be honest about ones life - that made the read much cooler, but I still don't find this book life changing for ...more
Tanya Palazzo
Nov 19, 2015 Tanya Palazzo rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura
Aug 27, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


Un libro decisamente femminista per una ragazza femminista.
Sasha è l'incarnazione di tutte le donne con il desiderio di essere bellissime e desiderate ma anche intelligenti, istruite e che vogliono distinguersi con comportamenti anticonformisti. Forse è per questo che ci si riconosce così in lei amandola e trovandola antipatica allo stesso tempo.

Ma questo è soprattutto un libro che fa riflettere: quanto è cambiato l'atteggiamento degli uomini e della società nei confronti delle donne negli ultim
...more
Stephanie
Jul 05, 2008 Stephanie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stephanie by: Aunt Jan
Didn't know heading into it that it was a "classic" of the women's lib movement. A few treats in her writing style and ideas. Interesting how easily we create "rules" for ourselves based on what we see, read, experience, and observe. I think anyone can relate to Sasha's story and the mirging realities of the life we are living, the life we think we are living, and the life we always thought we'd live.
Kate
I first heard about this book as some kind of feminist manifesto. What it is, is a story of a girl's experiences through life and how it disappoints her. It was fairly depressing. I'm not sure how relevant it is now--I think women feel more confident to speak their minds about how they are treated, but often mothers do push their daughters to be in relationships with the "right" sort of man and girls are still pressured to have sex in the backseats of cars. So maybe it is relevant.
Dennis
Mar 24, 2008 Dennis rated it really liked it
Recommended to Dennis by: Max
I was presented to this book when feminist fiction really began taking off in the mainstream but didn't get around to it immediately. Like a lot of the books of the time, it dwelled on the victimization of women more than on the more positive relationships between the sexes - or maybe I was too sensitive at the time - but it read well and I enjoyed it, maybe because the main character took some responsibilty for her actions instead of being a victim.
Pamela Esther Nask
Yes...it's all about her.

I got through this book realizing that it had absolutely no impact on me whatsoever. Filled with so much dialogue....."am I pretty enough"......?......how will I know I am really pretty"?????
Can a person be this self centered and boring.....and can a book be interesting and maybe even funny about a woman so consumed about her looks throughout her life?....no
Johanna
Jan 31, 2008 Johanna rated it really liked it
Honestly, I read this book for the first time when I was 15 and it freaked me out. I loved it, but it just depressed me. And made me happy I wasn't all that beautiful. I read it again recently, and even though I'm in a different place in my life, I was still deeply moved by Sasha's struggle to have an identity and a sense of self moving through eras that don't necessarily....support that. It's beautiful. It's heartbreaking. It makes you think.
Shelley
Aug 22, 2015 Shelley rated it really liked it
You could watch a bunch of seasons of Mad Men, or you could read a fictionalized version of Ms. Shulman's life. I imagine this was very shocking when it came out. It's shocking now--not in the way things have changed, but in the way they haven't. You wouldn't believe the trouble I go to with my face cream, and look at me with my education, books...and long hair, husband, kid, and veteran Lancôme gift-with-purchase savvy. (At least sanitary pads are a thing of the past.)
Melanie
Dec 19, 2008 Melanie rated it liked it
I was tempted, at first, to stop reading this book because it was so preachy, self-righteous, anti-male, and pretentious. BUT, it did lessen up with that stuff and midway through, I started to really like it- although I never completely understood sasha's choices, I did like her story, and also, was interested in the way that this book highlighted the subtle and obvious sexisms of society that existed in post ww2 usa (and still exist today?)
Erin
Nov 09, 2008 Erin rated it it was amazing
This book was funny, smart, and entertaining. Though it was written in the late 60s/early 70s, it isn't the kind of book that is only good if it's timely. It gets at the vanity of being a woman in modern society, while also wanting to be recognized for one's brains, and the traps women escape or walk into and compromises and joys women make or take everyday.
Karen
Jun 04, 2007 Karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: so-70s
I went through a phase during which I was obsessed with first-wave feminist coming-of-age stories. I was in high school, and I read them in a state of complete fascination and horror. This one features a home abortion scene that is completely out of hand; it's a lot like the one in the original Alfie, actually.
Victoria Grusing
Aug 25, 2016 Victoria Grusing rated it it was ok
It was one of those books I read before Goodreads that I picked up to read without remembering. It took a few pages to remember to check in my old lists to verify I had read it before. This is not a sign it was a great book for me. The writing is good, just not the kind of story that means much to me.
Monica
Oct 12, 2012 Monica rated it it was ok
I picked this up because it was by Alix Kates Shulman and I hadn't read it yet. Didn't really like it that much, though. Maybe I just prefer Shulman's memoirs to her fiction, since I wasn't that into her newest, Menage, either. On the other hand, maybe this book is just dated for me. Had I read it back in the '80s, or in 1972, when it was published, it may have made a bigger impact.
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Raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Alix attended public schools and planned to be a lawyer like her dad. But in college at Case Western Reserve University she was smitten by philosophy and upon graduation moved to New York City to study philosophy at Columbia grad school. After some years as an encyclopedia editor, she enrolled at New York University, where she took a degree in mathematics, and later, ...more
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