Bonjour Tristesse was assigned in my 8th grade French class. All that summer - I was 14 - I was obsessed with the book's heroine, Cécile, and wanted t Bonjour Tristesse was assigned in my 8th grade French class. All that summer - I was 14 - I was obsessed with the book's heroine, Cécile, and wanted to be just like her: aloof, tan and glamorous. Failed.
Cecile's descent into tristesse, happens during a summer holiday with her father in a secluded villa on the Côte d’Azur. During their holiday, Cécile, 17, and dad: Raymond - a suave, irresponsible libertine - laze about and tan. When Anne arrives at the villa and threatens to turn father and daughter's carefree lives upside down, Cécile - her fear and jealousy aroused- flies into a flurry of paranoia. The well meaning and responsible Anne threatens Cecile's comfort, as she is the first true rival for her father's affections and the first "grown up" he has been involved with. After Raymond and Anne announce their engagement, Anne proceeds to make plans for the 3 of them which at first Cécile finds desirable and necessary, but later fears will disrupt their carefree and hedonistic lives. Cecile starts to plot her course. “At all costs,” she emotes, “I must save myself, regain my father and our former life.” She devises a plan of sexual deception to destroy her father's relationship with Anne. Cécile has last minute regrets and hope to put a stop the plan but the wheels have literally already been set into motion and In the dénouement, Anne drives her sports car off a cliff.
Beneath Cecile's casually cruel facade, she is resoundingly adolescent: sensitive, guilty, confused, needy. She feels things deeply: the sun, the sea, her anger, fear, guilt, sex, drunkenness, denial, speeding in cars at night. She feels sudden pangs of regret for her stupid actions and promises herself to reverse them, but then she is sedated by the sun and the sea, by making love in Cyril's boat, and any ideas of reversal evaporate. She's not thoughtful enough to process any of these feelings. After Anne's death, Cécile is unable to process or accept her complicity and takes refuge in the "old way of life" with her father, and together they party and drink their way into rationalising away the wreckage their stupid and careless behavior has brought upon other people.
I loved this little book, and it's author, Francoise Sagan, who wrote this in 7 weeks at age 18 and had a very interesting, albeit tragic life of her own. ...more
This is where Norma Klein really jumps the shark. She fell from being the queen of portraying realistically normal teenage girls in relatable situatioThis is where Norma Klein really jumps the shark. She fell from being the queen of portraying realistically normal teenage girls in relatable situations to the depths of the worst kind of teenaged girl fantasy malarky.
"Tatiana" is a 14 year old of other worldly beauty and blatant pre pubescent sexual attractiveness. She is adored to the point of worship by her parents and her parent's friends. Her dad is especially agog over his perfect daughter's attributes. She is faultless. A Brooke Shields like beauty of monumental proportions but at the same time innocent and sweet to the bone, a great student, a good daughter and a talented actress. She is chosen out of the thin air to star in a major movie, where she proves herself to be talented as an actress but more importantly as a burgeoning film star nymphet. She even has a "nude" scene which she carries off with tastefulness, sincerity and aplomb.
To top it off, although she is portrayed as childlike and without affect, she is having a full blown sexual relationship with her boyfriend. At FOURTEEN. Fully sanctioned by her parents and by the world in which this book devises to revolve around it's fantastical main character. Even Brooke Shields stayed a virgin until an adult. This is a departure from Klein's earlier books, wherein the young girls stay true to type and are almost exclusively not sexually active or at least they are conflicted about it. Tatiana is just in a fully fledged adult relationship, then skips off to school in her pigtails.
The other egregious part of this book is the fact that Tatiana has an older sister, Delia, who is ugly and therefore completely unimportant to their parents or anyone else in the book other than her dad reminding his pretty daughter that her ugly sister is pitiable so treat her kindly. Poor Delia is described as having glasses, a huge nose, cystic acne (which is untreatable even by the top doctors in NY), and frizzy tufts of mousey brown hair. Tatiana has a perfect complexion, a chimeric mane -unparalleled in life or fiction - of crimson hair, giant, wolflike gray eyes, a tiny nose and a perfect body. Unbelievably, Delia is not even a better student than Tat, she doesn't even have the ugly yet smarter sister thing going for her. She has nothing. Needless to say Delia is not the parent's favorite and is largely ignored. She is, rightfully, resentful of her sister but not to the point of slashing her face and hacking her hair, which no one reading this book would fault her for.
This book reads like the author's fantasy, and is ridiculous, creepy and irresponsible. ...more
Nell is 13, her parents have just gotten divorced from each other for the second time. She and her 5 year old brother Hugo go to live with their dad iNell is 13, her parents have just gotten divorced from each other for the second time. She and her 5 year old brother Hugo go to live with their dad in NYC rather than with their mother, who -weirdly -lives with her loopy doopy friend, Greta, in Greta's family's house in New Jersey. This book is purely a product of the 1970's The character descriptions, the lackadaisical attitudes towards strange living arrangements, the ways in which adults interacted with their teenaged daughters. An example of how this book's physical center is based on outdated norms - The mom, to whom 5 year old Hugois obviously very attached, almost thoughtlessly deposits the little boy on the dad's NYC apartment doorstep because Greta is not "maternal" enough for Hugo to live with. Hugo is reasonably distraught and no one seems to care, least of all the dad who is decidedly less "paternal" than Greta is "maternal", making him wholly unlikable from that point forth. Nell makes no bones about the fact that she loves her father more than her mother, she adores him to the point of obviousness - even her mother makes snide comments about it. Despite the familial oddities, this novel is a good example of how Norma Klein was really able to tap into the consciousness of a teenage girl at that time. She was a master of 1970's era teenage girl angst little dramas, way more so than Judy Blume. Her stories, like this one, were often set in NYC which made them a little less relatable to the rest of us. But the protagonists and their feelings towards their parents and siblings were almost always personally relatable and Nell is no exception. She is average looking and barely middle class but unconcerned with not being beautiful or having nice things, smart but not brilliant or with astounding talents or ambitions, shy but not entirely insecure. She is stunningly average. This was still a time in which girls were not obsessed with their looks, fashion, pop culture or popularity to the extent they are today. So in that way it is entirely dated, but the way in which a teenage girl's feelings and anxieties are expressed and realized is not....more
Any book with "Confessions of a Girl Gang" in the title has me at Confessions. I loved this book as a teenager, mostly for it's novelty I think. Re reAny book with "Confessions of a Girl Gang" in the title has me at Confessions. I loved this book as a teenager, mostly for it's novelty I think. Re read it as as adult and found the characters to be somewhat shallow and the affectation of poor grammar to be annoying....more
I found this book about a teenager's realization that she is an alcoholic, to be very real and surprisingly well written. The protagonist - who's nameI found this book about a teenager's realization that she is an alcoholic, to be very real and surprisingly well written. The protagonist - who's name I cannot recall - is star softball player and popular and accomplished student. When her alcohol use starts spinning out of control she finds herself alone and abandoned by everything and everyone except for a sympathetic coach. Impacted me as a teenager but have not read it since....more
Obviously fake. Anti drug propaganda. Ludicrous scenarios like her accidently taking LSD while baby sitting and having a freak out. Re read it as an aObviously fake. Anti drug propaganda. Ludicrous scenarios like her accidently taking LSD while baby sitting and having a freak out. Re read it as an adult and you'll see what I mean,...more
I just re read this and it is kind of bad. I realized that this book was based on the TV movie that I remember so well, not the other way around. it dI just re read this and it is kind of bad. I realized that this book was based on the TV movie that I remember so well, not the other way around. it does not do justice to the real life story at all. The writing is spare and dull. Norma Klein does not give this heartbreaking and special story any more care than one of her lesser teen novels.
It's an interesting and tragic story about a young single mother who develops terminal cancer. The thing that is so profoundly sad about this story is how Kate's naivety, optimism and poverty kill her. She continues to be treated by an obviously unqualified and terrible doctor even after realizing he is a quack. This doctor passes off her obviously serious symptoms as "bursitis". Kate knows it's complete bullshit and knows that there is something probably seriously wrong but neglects to take responsibility for her own body out of thrift (neither she nor her boyfriend seem to have steady jobs), and a kind of wistful innocence. It is only when she collapses from the pain that she and her equally irresponsible boyfriend concede to spend the money and go to a legitimate doctor in a real hospital.
When she is told in no uncertain terms that she needs to have her leg amputated immediately or she will die, she chooses to die and leave her baby daughter motherless. Again, I felt a kind of pang of sorrow. I wanted to beg her to have the operation. She is 22, sweet and full of life and love for her daughter. I remember even as a child watching the made for TV movie thinking "Wait! Your leg is not worth your life!"
It is a depressing glimpse into the lives of a young, decent, loving couple who are nothing but sweet and kind to everyone around them. They are great as long as they are living their lives free of too much responsibility but when hit with a real life trauma, are seemingly overwhelmed by their situation and incapable of making good decisions....more