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Some Girls: My Life in a Harem

3.29  ·  Rating Details ·  6,117 Ratings  ·  901 Reviews
A jaw-dropping story of how a girl from the suburbs ends up in a prince's harem, and emerges from the secret Xanadu both richer and wiser

At eighteen, Jillian Lauren was an NYU theater school dropout with a tip about an upcoming audition. The "casting director" told her that a rich businessman in Singapore would pay pretty American girls $20,000 if they stayed for two week
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 27th 2010 by Plume (first published 2010)
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The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenDivergent by Veronica RothMockingjay by Suzanne CollinsGone Girl by Gillian FlynnClockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Best Books of the Decade: 2010's
478th out of 4,319 books — 6,934 voters
Celestial Bodies in Orbit by Eve LittlepageOnce Upon a Road Trip by Angela N. BlountSome Girls by Jillian LaurenChanel Bonfire by Wendy LawlessHeads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky
Engaging Memoirs and (Auto)Biographies
3rd out of 89 books — 54 voters

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Community Reviews

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Why, hello there Your Royal Highness Pengiran Digadong Sahibul Mal Pengiran Muda Jefri Bolkiah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien or, in short, Prince Jefri aka Robin (for the ladies).

Wow, this man and his lifestyle really intrigues me. I had heard the rumors, but thanks to this excellent memoir by Jillian Lauren I started to really roam the Internet.
Prince Jefri is the youngest brother of the sultan of Brunei. He is - or in fact, was - known for his extravag
May 21, 2010 Cat rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
I saw this author on The View promoting this book. I immediately thought 2 things: 1) I am about to rewrite a story that is set in a modern-day harem and this would be good for research and 2) here is another person who got a publishing contract not because she can write, but because she happened to have a good story which in light of the recent Oprah book club memoir debacles may or may not be true. Amid the depressing thoughts that I would perhaps have to join a harem to get a NY publishing ...more
Jul 08, 2011 Meredith rated it it was ok
I heard the author give an interview on Howard Stern about this book, and was intrigued not so much by her harem/hooker past but by the fact she is now married to the bassist of Weezer, and they adopted a little boy from Ethiopia... just like me (the Ethiopia part, not the Weezer part).

And okay, the harem thing was sort of interesting. But though this book was readable, by the end I was totally annoyed by the writer. She has the pretense of being this fantastic author who honed her craft during
Aug 12, 2016 Suzanne rated it really liked it
Recommended to Suzanne by: The $1 shelf at the library
Shelves: memoir

This was a pleasant surprise. The subtitle gave me pause for a moment, but this memoir was not the tawdry, cheesy and/or poorly written mess I feared it might be. Why was I reading this at all? A $1 find at the library and a mood to indulge in a light, easy-breezy summertime read. It was that, but more, a coming-of-age story about the author’s search for identity at ages 18 and 19 in an unusual setting with a twist, and finally, her learning how to have compassion for her own mistakes and shortc
Mar 11, 2011 Teresa rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I found this book sad and disturbing, bereft of any real point.
I picked it up out of curiosity about Brunei and an abiding interest in each
person's unique story, but finished it only to see if the poor girl eventually
found some sort of redemption. It seems she didn't.
Jillian and her brother Johnny grew up in the middle-class non-observant
Jewish family into which they were both adopted. Both experienced troubled
and wild teenage years. Johnny found fulfillment in God, becoming a devout
Hasid. Jill
Jul 08, 2010 Liz rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 25, 2011 Thomas rated it it was amazing
Shelves: east-asia, sex-work
I admit that I gave this memoir five stars instead of four because I know the author, though only distantly. I admired her writing early in her career and when I finally read this memoir I was pretty blown away. I hear a lot of hating in the comments, but that doesn't really make sense to me. It's really quite a beautifully-written book. Maybe memoir is just one of those things that either clicks with you or doesn't. But I've read a lot of books about sex work, and this one was unquestionably ...more
May 23, 2010 Alice rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
(2.5 stars) This is a very quick, interesting read. The author is looking back at her 18-19 year old self who dropped out of NYU, became a stripper, became an escort, and ended up as a member of the Prince of Brunei's harem (this is all on the book jacket, so it's not a spoiler). While I really enjoyed some of the passages (the scenes where she spends spends spends in Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, etc. are crazy), there are a lot of long boring flashbacks to her upper-middle class Jewish ...more
Marie desJardins
Oct 03, 2010 Marie desJardins rated it it was ok
Just, kinda, eh. I mean, certainly some of the "behind-the-scenes" details of the Sultan of Brunei's younger brother's "party girls" were kind of interesting. But the book purports to be about the author *and* her experiences, and the part about the author -- who she is, why she took this gig in the first place, why she left, why she went back -- is just all over the place. There's no real story arc, and it's really hard to understand where she's coming from. It seemed like it was trying to be ...more
Allison Floyd
If you've been a real, live, contemporary harem girl, and you can write worth a damn, then clearly you have a story to tell. Jillian Lauren certainly can write worth a damn, which makes for an entertaining and rather sickening glance into a mental landscape that is frequently unflattering, vacillating wildly between a preciously narcissistic self-concept and good ol' low self-esteem. In Lauren's world, other women are a series of assets and liabilities to be assessed as "the competition". It's ...more
♥ Marlene♥
Finished this yesterday. One word comes to mind about this book. That word is... Honest!

Wow That girl is so honest, In was sometimes shocked but loved it as well.

How she spoke about her father. That was the first thing that surprised me.

Quote: "In Great tradition of Jewish parents, his dearest belief is that when he is dead, I'll spend the rest of my life regretting my callous behaviour towards him"

Wow. I do not find that a very positive thing about Jewish parents if that is true.

She also wrote
Caitlin Constantine
Jun 24, 2010 Caitlin Constantine rated it liked it
I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. I've often found there is a relationship between the quality of the writing in a memoir and the outlandishness of the story - The crazier the life story, the crappier the writing, and vice versa. So I figured that it doesn't really get much more bizarre than spending several months as part of a harem for the sons of the Sultan of Brunei, and that the writing would be horrible.

Well, it wasn't. I thought it was actually really good. I tore through it
Dec 11, 2015 Shawna rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
It's hard to feel sorry for a woman who prostituted herself to the richest man in the world, and was allowed to fly to Singapore and spend more than "the down payment on her house" on designer clothes. Sure, she was bored, and manipulated, and pulled into the catty machinations of the harem, but in the end she walked away with ten of thousands of dollars in cash, and jewelry. It was a fascinating story, and the author's background/upbringing explains a good deal of dissociative relationship with ...more
May 12, 2010 Wendy rated it it was ok
I didn't love this book. I thought it was a waste of time. The language was awful, and I didn't understand many parts. She skips around and brings in analogies that don't make a lot of sense. Lots of reviews talk about how she "found" herself and grew up. I didn't get that at all. Seemed to me like she didn't learn anything from her mistakes. It skips 14 years ahead and gives one page on her life now with her husband and baby. Somewhere in that 14 years she may have learned, but if so, she ...more
Rachel Kramer Bussel
Apr 28, 2010 Rachel Kramer Bussel rated it it was amazing
Some Girls is about, on the surface, Lauren's time spent in a harem in Brunei, but dig just marginally beneath that surface and you will see that this is a memoir that tackles major moments in both her life and one's that many women struggle with. Lauren leaves home at 16 to head out on her own at NYU, but soon finds the life of the theater and, later, escorting, more her style. She is young, brash and carefree, but Lauren never makes it as easy as "I was rebelling." She transposes her ...more
Dec 11, 2011 Ruds rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the mid-90's, the Philippines was gripped by a scandal on the alleged flesh trade of Filipina models, actresses and entertainers in Brunei that a senate investigation was even called. I picked out this book hoping to glean insider accounts of the mysterious, sensual lives of the girls( or, as the author lightly put it, the royal entertainers) inside a harem. And yeah, I was hoping Ruffa Guiterrez's name will be brought up.

In her time inside Prince Jefri's harem, the author befriended a Filip
তুমি যেতে পারো না।
-তুমি কি আমাকে বিশ হাজার ডলার দিবে?
সবখানেই তো টাকার চিনতা করলে হয়না। তুমি তো এমনিতেই যথেষট রোজগার কর।
-আমার টাকাটা দরকার, তাহলে কিছুদিন অনতত নিশচিনতে থাকতে পারবো।
এভাবে হয়না আসলে। বেশি টাকা তোমার চিনতা আরো বাড়াবে, কমাবে না মোটেই।

লেখক আর তাঁর বয়ফরেনের মধযে কথোপকথন। জিলিয়ান বলেছিল সে সিঙগাপুরে যাচছে মুভির শযুট করতে। বইটা দেখার পর আমার সুনীলের না পাঠানো চিঠি কবিতার মত কিছু একটা মনে হয়েছিল। আসলে তা যে নয়, উপরের আলাপই তা বলে।

বইটা শুধু তাঁর বরুনেই এর হারেম জীবন বললে ভুল বলা হবে। তাঁর স
Jennifer Halter
May 21, 2015 Jennifer Halter rated it it was ok
Shelves: bookclub
Interesting - but I think I was expecting more. The story seemed really superficial - life in a harem is something most can barely imagine, and she summed it up with a few cursory details. There was no internal moral struggle, no life-lessons learned, no defining, life altering moment. She needed money. She went. She came home. No big deal. As a result I didn't connect with Jill at all. I found myself checking Wikipedia a lot while I was reading to learn a lot of the facts and background story ...more
Aug 13, 2010 Pam rated it liked it
How does a fairly wealthy adopted Jewish girl end up in a modern day harem at 18? Lauren does a good job of explaining her journey. She is a very angry teenager. She has been physically and mentally abused by her father for yrs. When he gets angry at her he beats her and then later apologizes. After one of her father's tantrums she tells her mother she is moving out. Her mother agrees with her. HUH????? She is only 16! Her mother suggests she gets her GED and skip her senior yr of High school. I ...more
May 02, 2012 Gerund rated it liked it
With a subtitle like My Life In A Harem, you would be forgiven for expecting this book to be thick with titillating details and palace politics. And you would not be disappointed.

But this memoir by an American, who – willingly – joined the harem of Brunei’s Prince Jefri Bolkiah, the youngest brother of the Sultan of Brunei, is also a frank self-portrait of a young woman who, in her own words, always picked the path “that seemed a tiny bit wilder. Because that was who I wanted to be”.

Given up for
K2 -----
Jan 19, 2012 K2 ----- rated it really liked it
This is a quick read that is not earth shattering but it interesting in a bit of a National Enquirer way. Ignore the dime store cover.

I suppose it depends what expectation you bring to the book how you feel about it. If you want to know the inner workings of a harem or juicy sex stories I think you may well be disappointed. If instead you read it for the portrait of the roots of troubled young people it's quite a road map.

Take an adopted daughter, throw her into an upper middle class Jewish New
Oct 26, 2012 Louise rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, memoir, brunei
The first thing that comes to mind is "Is this true?" A harem in Brunei circa 1990 seems to work, but the email capability on the second trip might not. The second trip has no date, but presumably took place before 1993 when only institutions were part of the internet proto-type, the NREN. All else rings true, so if a super geek did set up a form of email, I expect we can Jillian Lauren at her word. She covers a lot of ground in this once over lightly story.

I read the book quickly, wedging it in
Oct 02, 2011 Gem rated it liked it
This is an absolutely fascinating memoir by a smart, funny, witty woman. At so many points in this book, I found myself thinking, “How have I never heard of this woman before? How do more people not know about this?” I always knew that harems of this sort still exist in this world. Of course they do – and it’s portrayed all the time in the movies. So why wouldn’t it be real? The only difference is, when you see a powerful man with a bevy of beauties on his arm in a movie, you don’t really get to ...more
Holly Kench
Feb 25, 2012 Holly Kench rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
"Some Girls" is the true story of an 18 year old struggling actress, who takes a position in the harem of the Prince of Brunei. It chronicles her upbringing, the choices and paths that led to her decision to become an international prostitute, her time in the harem and her struggle to deal with life on her return to the US. The plot and the realities of her life that drive the story come as no surprise. What is surprising, however, is the insight with which she relates her story. It is all the ...more
Janne Varvára
I am right now having a post-literary depression. Those come on after I read a book that's so good that everything I try to read afterwards is mush.

I first discovered writer Jillian Lauren when I read an article she did for The New York Times a few years back. I remember it as honest and moving, and I immediately put her memoir Some Girls on my wish list.

It was several years before I got around to reading it, and when I did, it did not disappoint.

Here, Jillian Lauren writes about her experiences
Dec 30, 2010 Laura rated it liked it
This book tells of the experiences in a girl from the tri-state area that was in the Brunei harem. While not entirely typical (she's adopted, dropped out of school at age 16), Lauren is easy to relate to and generally likeable. She doesn't dwell on how she got her start in the sex industry, but it's not hard to read between the lines (father issues, needing to be loved etc). Her account is pretty upfront, and she dwells more on the sorority-like aspect of her living situation rather than the ...more
Aug 09, 2011 Beth rated it liked it
A friend loaned me this autobiographical book and suggested that I read it; otherwise I would have never picked it up. Nowhere near as mindnumbing. An adopted, rebellious Jew girl from suburban New Jersey runs off to NYC with big dreams of becoming an actress. Drops out of college, becomes a stripper, and then an escort to get easy money. She gets picked at the age of 19 to travel across the world to be a part of Prince Jefri's harem in Brunei. She ends up staying there for 18 months. Although I ...more
May 20, 2014 Wifda rated it liked it
For me some parts of this book is hard to digest and hardly easy to understand. Especially the part when she chose her life to be an escort and going to Brunei to be a sex slave in a harem in searching of her soul and identity, particularly due to being an adoptive child for her life. Despite how strong she was in writing her story, she seems very unstable and emotional within the age.

On other part, I was disappointed on the story of the harem part which is not too strong. I mean cmon I expect
I'm trying really hard to look at this book through a different lens. But it is hard. This is Jillian Lauren's life story. Her story about her adoption, her abusive adopted father, and her choice to be part of the sex trade. It is definitely a different story, not many people who write memoirs detailing their sexual exploits.
She was obviously broken. She needed to feel powerful, because she had no power over her life before she moved to Brunei. I guess for me, it felt self indulgent and not cog
May 23, 2011 Brian rated it really liked it
This book was given to me by a friend, and I am glad she gave it to me. It is about a woman who travels to the country of Brunei, which I had never heard of, to become part of the prince's harem. She has to sleep with him whenever he wants, among many other girls. I thought this book was quite disturbing at times, but it really held my interest. MY least favorite part was when she came back to NY, I thought hearing about her adventures in Brunei trumped the ones she had in New York. I'm not sure ...more
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Review 1 36 Aug 27, 2011 05:56AM  
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Jillian is the author of the new memoir, EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED, the New York Times bestselling memoir, SOME GIRLS: My Life in a Harem, and the novel, PRETTY, all from Plume/Penguin.

SOME GIRLS, which chronicles her time spent in the harem of the Prince of Brunei, has been translated into eighteen languages.

EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED is the story of Jillian's most radical act - learning the st
More about Jillian Lauren...

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“She was like a real strawberry in a roomful of strawberry Pop-Tarts.” 11 likes
“I know something about performing. I know that when it seems like the avalanche is about to roll over you, you face into it and keep both arms swimming as hard as you can. You smile and you sell it.” 7 likes
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