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Stage Daughter

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“Cultures clash in this engaging, heartfelt novel about a single mother forced to face unresolved feelings from the past when her 12-year-old daughter insists on connecting with the father she’s never known.” Stephanie Lehmann, author of Astor Place Vintage

Every unmarried woman fears unwanted pregnancy (just as every married man dreads discovering he fathered an unknown child). Sonya Schoenberg dreamed of someday becoming a famous actress, but instead, a hapless, one-time tryst with a Muslim man lands her the lifetime role of single mother.

Alone and forsaken by her family, Sonya tries to keep her dream alive through her “stage daughter,” Razia, now a precocious pre-teen enrolled in a competitive performing arts school. But Raz prefers drawing to drama and has no problem defying her mom to get what she wants—be it piercing her own ears, doing a dumb dare, or hunting down her biological father, Aziz. While Sonya struggles to keep a tenuous hold over rebellious Raz, she stubbornly sets her sights on transforming her mom’s “sperm donor” into a doting dad. Meanwhile, Aziz (the father of two in an arranged marriage) follows a script all his own trying to convert his newfound daughter to Islam. Can this troubled threesome improvise a successful “second run” despite deep-rooted animosities and seemingly insurmountable barriers? Or will bitterness and bigotry forever steal center stage?

A daughter's determination, a mother's mistrust, and a father's faith collide in this witty and powerful story of healing, forgiveness, and family.

349 pages, Paperback

First published July 8, 2013

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About the author

Sheryl Sorrentino

6 books88 followers
Sheryl Sorrentino is the author of six very different novels: Later With Myself: The Misadventures of Millie Moskowitz (which recounts a neglected twelve-year-old’s devastating pregnancy); An Unexpected Exile (a romantic ride with Risa Weinberg, a 29-year old Jewish fashion merchandiser who is relentlessly pursued by a charismatic and slightly "off-kilter" Sandinista rebel); The Floater (the story of 46-year-old Norma Reyes, who gets a rude awakening when her law degree leads her into a den of discrimination and betrayal); Stage Daughter (a page-turning exposé of single-motherhood, blended families, and religious intolerance endorsed by Compulsion Reads and winner of a Finalist slot in the Chick Lit/Women's Lit fiction category of The 2013 USA Best Book Awards); Stop & Frisk (which tells the story of a strip club bouncer struggling for closure and kinship), and her latest, Smarter Than That (the story of a recent widow's calamitous foray into the world of online dating).

Through her gritty and provocative writing style, Sheryl Sorrentino has pioneered a culturally-inclusive women's fiction subgenre that's both sensual and socially significant. A practicing attorney by day, Sheryl Sorrentino writes Real Fiction for Real Women™. To learn more, visit her website at www.sherylsorrentino.com, follow her on Twitter (https://twitter. com/ SherylSorrentin); and "friend" her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sheryl.sorre...). And for a sampling of Sheryl's edgy and entertaining musings, check out her blog at http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/...

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Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews
Profile Image for Shannon .
1,221 reviews2,127 followers
October 19, 2013
Sonya Schoenberg is the adopted, half-black daughter of a rich Jewish couple who soon after taking the girl of unknown parentage in, had their own child, a boy. Beautiful but entitled and resentful, prone to milking her parents for money rather than take a loving interest in them as people, Sonya dreamed of making it big on the stage or screen but never managed it - instead she had a one-night stand with a Kuwaiti man called Aziz and ended up with a fatherless daughter of her own, Razia. Sonya loves her daughter, but she's determined that Razia will succeed where she failed, and insists on Razia attending a private arts school in San Francisco with a focus on acting, even though Razia prefers to draw.

Razia, now twelve, wants to find out about her father. Sonya has never spoken well of him but Razia has learnt that he owns several yoga studios and it's not hard for her to track him down. Meeting him brings both Sonya and Aziz together but not in a friendly or peaceful way: Sonya wants nothing to do with him and feels threatened by him, while Aziz makes sly comments about Sonya's parenting and the prospect of getting lawyers involved, and wants to convert Razia to Islam - though he hasn't yet told his wife or two children about her yet.

In the months leading up to the attack on New York's twin towers in September 2001, tensions rise, prejudices and assumptions are cast, and everyone in this family drama starts to look a bit ugly - well-meaning at heart, but blinded by bitterness and bigotry. Can they work things out and get along or will the abrasive clashes continue, with Razia caught in the middle?

This is the second book by Sorrentino that I've read, after enjoying The Floater a year ago; it's a very different story but told with the same skill in depicting realistic, earthy and interesting characters and complex, emotional issues. In some ways I enjoyed it more - it explores issues that have always interested me, namely religious, ethnic and cultural differences and how people get along together (or don't), as well as parenting and coming-of-age (for Sonya as well as Razia) - but I did weary of Sonya's bitter, stringent ranting, as true to her character as it was. I couldn't help but agree with some of the other characters: she really needed to get laid.

There are some really insightful passages in the novel, astute glimpses into what it's like living as an ethnic, religious or cultural minority (or all three, really) in contemporary United States. Sonya epitomises the ignorant citizen who's picked up some laughable stereotypes and is too arrogant to bother checking their veracity. But she does at least apologise and seems open to being corrected. It's not just Sonya's flaws that are sure to get you emotionally and intellectually engaged: Aziz, too, is going to push your buttons. Many of Sonya's criticisms of him are right on the mark, though she doesn't care about seeing things from his perspective. He is high-handed and a bit pompous, and Sorrentino does a deft and convincing job of presenting a man born to a very different way of living, trying to find a middle ground in America where he can stay true to the values he upholds and believes in.

Razia is the most sympathetic character, if you don't count the boy at her school who likes her enough to help her find her father but later becomes a scapegoat for Razia's inability to tell the truth over which of her peers tried to strangle her at school (apparently this is the new thing in attempting a "high"). She doesn't make it easy to like her, being in that delicate, vulnerable, troubled cusp age, but her yearning for a father - her need for a father, for a man to fill that role of authority, guidance and love - is a very human and necessary one and since she is the child in the situation, the blameless one in Sonya and Aziz's cock-up, she got my sympathy quite easily. And like with many young teens, her mistakes are overblown until no one can see her good qualities or the nice things she does or just how vulnerable and yearning she really is.

There's no doubt that Sorrentino succeeded admirably in her aims with Stage Daughter, bringing to life a clash of cultures and the prejudices of modern America - and we didn't even go into class or socio-economic issues, among other things, that are also explored here in more subtle ways - with realism, honesty and respect. Sorrentino isn't interested in reenforcing the divisions she sees in her own society, maintaining that "black and white" dichotomy America is so well known for; she's interested in giving troubled characters the chance to tell their story, warts and all. It's a story told with empathy, affection, humour and an appreciation for the things that make us different and unique. It's a coming-of-age story that delves into the heart of contemporary issues, from what makes a family a family to the perception of foreign religion as a threat. A fine achievement.

My thanks to the author for a copy of this book.
Profile Image for Ashlei A.K.A Chyna Doll.
301 reviews152 followers
September 11, 2014
This is truly a "real-world" story with perspectives from 3 different people—our main character, Razia (the rebellious, confused 12 yr. old), Sonya (the single mother), and Aziz (the unknowingly long-lost father)—from 3 completely different worlds! It not only shows the viewpoints of a hard working mother who tries too hard to put her only child on the "right path", but also the Islamic father who had his faith pushed to the limit and is trying very hard to repent, if you will, to make the wrong right. And finally, a very smart teenage girl who is torn between her mother’s dream and finding out who she is!

I basically read this book in a day it was that good. And I am not just saying that because I am a fan of the author; it is genuinely a great, well-written story that is based on a 12 yr. old girl and her family, but by no means for kids. It's for anyone who enjoys books that push boundaries, and has a “make no apologies” approach. After reading this book, I am very excited to get my hands on the rest of Ms. Sorrentino's books.
Profile Image for Jac (For Love and Books).
455 reviews59 followers
August 3, 2013
I really loved Stage Daughter!! Being that Razzi’s mom was trying to live vicariously through her? That’s one of my favorite dilemmas in YA – because it’s all too real. Razzi is enrolled in a performing arts school, but would much rather focus her time on Drawing. Then you throw in 9/11 and the fact that Razzi is the daughter of a Muslim Man who has recently popped into her life and is making strides to convert Razzi to Islam.

This book is full of emotion! I laughed, I teared up, and I was cheering Razzi along all the way! It did take me about 50 pages to get into, but once I was? I couldn’t put it down and had to find out how it ended!!

Sheryl Sorrentino definitely is not afraid to stare conflict in the face! I loved her approach to Islam. I was much older than Razzi when 9/11 occurred (geez, I feel so old now!) but one of my closest friends is Muslim, and I remember his reactions and the insanity that ensued. I remember the way he was treated after, despite that he’d lived his whole life in the Mid-West. And I have to say, I applaud her for the way she handled the aftermath of this event, she hit it head on!

I cannot recommend Stage Daughter enough! It’s such a fantastic read, that will have you riding an emotional roller coaster and falling in love with the characters!
4 reviews2 followers
April 15, 2014
"Stage Daughter" is a compelling novel that digs deep into a diverse cast of characters and explores relationships that break down cultural and religious boundaries and stereotypes. Refreshing and beautifully written with a wit that could only belong to Sheryl Sorrentino, this book is a must read. I couldn't put it down!
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,910 reviews35.3k followers
August 12, 2014
3.5 Stars: Enjoyable ---not without flaws ---but 'strengths' shine through.

Early at the start of this novel we learn Sonya is 40 years old --a single mother of 12 year old Rezia.

Rezia was born on 911 --- (making the year 2013 during the telling of this story) --
The story takes place in the Bay Area: Mostly Berkeley, Oakland, and Albany, Calif.

I personally was struggling with the 'labels' and the 'slant' of the speaking from the main characters. If this book took place in Houston, Texas, I may have felt less 'body-jolts'.
I had a hard time believing this story took place in the Bay Area. I just don't know people who speak this way to one another --(I've lived here all my life) ---NOT 'mature' 40 year old women. --However --we learn 'soon' --what type of characters we are dealing with. (not the most loveable).

From the start of this novel we see lots of labeling: "Berkeley being called lesbo-central", helicopter moms, enormous parent liaison, people built like an Amazon, Betty White voice, and people with 'tude' (as in attitude). Also-- its a little hard to believe that in 2013 --an Oakland or Berkeley resident does not know what a veggie-burger is --or has never tasted Green Tea. (just hard to wrap my head around these little details that would pop up in the book ---but --- I can be forgiving) --- The story is engaging, even with these little personal annoyances.

Its clear the mother, (Sonya) has a few challenges with adult-maturity ---(part of her character)
By chapter 2 Sonya tells lets us know her daughter, Razia is rebellious. Razia is angry with her mother for making her be a Theatre Major at the Oakland Reginal Conservatory for the Arts (ORCA). Rezia wants to be an art major.
Sonja over-steps her daughters right to choose.
I'm thinking ---"Its 2013, Berkeley, California ---(its an ART school) --- I can't believe ANY mother --(even if its HER dream) --would MAKE a child major in a field she does not want".

(Theater-or Art = ART).
The children 'still' had required academic classes.
I could understand a parents 'PUSH', if the child were in High School with parents with strong academic values. They might push their child to attend business school in College --rather than art school. But a 12 year old? in an 'already' art school??? Makes little sense to me.

Jumping ahead to chapter 16 --- the mother asks her daughter: "Does this 'sudden' rebelliousness have anything to do with your father"? SUDDEN?
It had already been established that Rezia was 'angry' (rebellious by the mother's interpretations), in chapter 2. "Huh, I'm thinking"?
There was other places where I 'paused' --- things did not feel right (yet, the storytelling was enjoyable): Both!

Moving on: The bigger story-- more successful part of this novel deals with the journey & tensions from the discovery of Aziz, father of Rizia --[A Muslim].
The storytelling gets complicated and interesting --taking several twists and turns. I found this to be the 'heart' & more 'significant' importance in "STAGE DAUGHTER" ---- The 'inquiry' (problem-solving), feels genuinely fragil, brittle, and engrossing.

Overall: I think many people will enjoy this novel.

Profile Image for Cinda MacKinnon.
Author 1 book28 followers
April 16, 2015
Stage Daughter deals with complex and thorny topics in the vehicle of a family drama. Sonya is a hard-working, single mother without strong family ties. The adopted, bi-racial daughter of a Jewish couple, she was apparently treated as a second class member of the family after a biological brother was born. (Although appalling, I have seen this happen first hand, so it rang true to me.) Her contact with her family is limited to occasions when she needs money. Sonya has issues and thus is hard to like; she is abrasive, foul-mouthed and bitter, but this was a conscious choice by the author.
Her daughter, Razia is also biracial – the result of a one-night stand with a Kuwaiti man. Sonya had aspired to being on stage and propels her daughter to fulfill those dreams. Razia resents being pushed into theatre when she wants to be an artist. (Really do parents still do that?) Sonya loves her and means well, but not surprisingly Razia is also troubled … a sulky and sometimes rude adolescent.
Razia’s longing for a father and a more stable parental figure allows her to cut a lot more slack for him than she ever would for her mother. Aziz is perhaps a more sympathetic character, as the Muslim man who wants to do the right thing – although he can be autocratic too. Sonya feels threatened and resentful of him and Razia is caught in the middle. Aziz feels his duty is to convert Razia to Islam immediately. To tell more might ruin the plot for you. Suffice it to say the it has a satisfying ending.
At first I had a hard time getting into the book as the two main characters are not particularly endearing. The pace slows at times due to conversations that seem unnecessary, but it picks up when Razia tracks down her father, Aziz. Although at times I felt the three protagonists all seemed to speak in the same voice, making the reader figure out whose voice they are hearing(reading), the different points of view are critical and handled skillfully.
The novel is set in Berkeley California and I live in the San Francisco Bay area so it was fun for me to read of places like the “Berkeley Bowl.” I like it when authors use real settings and describe places you may encounter in your travels or even daily life.

As I was reading, I thought I would probably give this book three to three and a half stars, but decided that was my own genre prejudice and I changed my mind as I read on. The book is well-written and shows respect for the diversity of the characters. Sheryl Sorrentino tells this bold story with candor and empathy, exploring contemporary issues of ethnic, religious, and cultural differences as well as sexual orientations. A laudable accomplishment. After reading this book, I look forward to reading Later With Myself her “semi-memoir.”
Profile Image for LiteraryMarie.
562 reviews51 followers
August 2, 2013
Sonya Schoenberg dreamed of becoming an actress until a one-time tryst with a Muslim man led to an unplanned pregnancy. Sonya was forced to put her dream on hold to raise biracial daughter, Razzi. Pre-teen Razzi is enrolled in a performing arts school and going through a rebellious stage. It starts off with Razzi piercing her own ears, failing math, then leads to her finding her father Aziz without Sonya's consent. Never mind that he is a father of two in an arranged marriage and had no idea Razzi even existed. ((O_O)) Sonya is playing the lifetime role of mother; Aziz is trying to convert newfound stage daughter to Islam. All the while, Razzi is determined to make this family a modern-day success.

America changed after the unfortunate events of 9/11. It is the sad reality that people of certain cultures are viewed differently and judged. This is one of the few books I have read that approaches this subject in a fiction manner.

I first had the pleasure of reading a book written by Sheryl Sorrentino this past March (The Floater). Sheryl is a practicing attorney by day and still finds time to write. Now that is dedication! I am glad she stepped out on a limb with the characters in her fourth novel, Stage Daughter. It was necessary, especially with current real life events, to bring light to issues such as religious and ethnic prejudice. What prompted Sheryl Sorrentino to write a book with such a powerful message? She explains, "While Stage Daughter is compelling in its lively depiction of this troubled threesome, most near and dear to me are the issues of religious and ethnic prejudice and promotion of diversity that are at its core. In fact, I have come to discover that my true purpose and penchant as a writer is to give life to these topics. Nearly fifty years after Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech, we still have significant chasms to bridge when it comes to racial equality and cultural acceptance."

Stage Daughter releases today. I encourage my bookhearts to read it for the good meaningful story, diverse cast, and the underlying message. Central themes such as healing, forgiveness, unplanned pregnancy, single parenthood, religion, rebellion, sexuality, racism and bigotry are explored within the 300+ pages. This is a very good pick for a diverse book club, complete with 21 discussion questions that will definitely spark positive discussion amongst readers.

Literary Marie of Precision Reviews
Profile Image for Tamara.
14 reviews1 follower
March 17, 2014
Sonya is a single mother that always dreamed of being an actress but never quite made it. Struggling to support her daughter, Sonya pushes her daughter Razia to become the successful actress that Sonya would never become. Sonya is trying to find her place in a world where she never seems to fit in while focusing all of her attention on troublesome Razia. How can one woman hold her own while combatting so many outside forces?

Razia is curious about her father and disappears for the afternoon on a trek that lands her in front of a man that she doesn't even know. One curiosity about her life has changed the lives of everyone that she knows. She comes face to face with her father, Aziz, with whom she has nothing in common with but she is fascinated by. What will happen to Razia now that she has a mother and a father that just can't get along?

Aziz is a muslim yogi running a successful business when a daughter that he never knew he had arrives at his work. Struggling with his past and present infidelities, Aziz is now faced with the challenge on worrying about the future of two separate families. What will happen when Aziz's unfaithfulness to his religion and to his wife come crashing in to his life?

"Stage Daughter" is reality fiction told from the perspectives of Sonya, Razia, and Aziz. The situations that they are dealing with are very relatable to the modern world and are very easy to understand. They are equally important characters in the tale of one family, and all of them are just trying to find where they fit into this crazy world. Personally, I didn't really like Sonya as a character because she was very quick to start fights without thinking rationally about things, and it was easy to confuse the voice of Sonya and her 12-13 year old daughter, Razia, because they are both incredibly immature. Sheryl Sorrentino excellently captures the language of how modern teenagers speak and act, which was very impressive. I appreciated reading a realistic story that was easy to relate to in the sense that all of the main characters had very different personal issues that they needed to come to terms with and was very pleased with the outcome of the story. Sheryl Sorrentino has crafted a story that, albeit is riddled with intense arguments, is an inspiring story about being true to who you are and embracing your place in this crazy, messed up world.

Review from tipprblog.com
Profile Image for Kirstin.
71 reviews10 followers
September 20, 2013
The author of this book sent me a copy for review. I was hesitant, because I could see it was a small press or self-published book, but the plot seemed interesting, so I agreed. I'm glad I did, because I enjoyed this book. The story, writing and editing were better quality than I anticipated.

Razia is a girl on the edge of adolescence, the bi-racial daughter of a single mother, Sonya. Razia is attending an arts school because her mom wants to see her dreams of being an actress lived out in her daughter, but all Razia wants to do is draw. Sonya is a strong, feisty woman with a big inferiority complex stemming from being the adopted bi-racial daughter of a Jewish family. Her tough life as a single mom has only made her more independent, prickly, and resistant to help or love.
The drama rachets up when Razia insists on meeting her Kuwaiti father Aziz, an unfortunate one night stand whom Sonya refers to as merely a sperm donor. Aziz struggles to explain Razia to his wife and children. His efforts to introduce Razia to his Muslim faith don't go over well with either Razia or Sonya.
Razia's struggles with her family and identity lead her to make risky choices with boys and drugs. Sonya's habitual fierce independence causes problems in her family, her relationship with Aziz, and her friendship (or could it be more?) with another art school single mom named Nanette. If only the two of them could open their hearts to change, acceptance and, most importantly, each other.

The strongest part of this book is the female characters, in all their different forms. Curly hair and dark skin; hijab-covered hair and gold skin; even short hair and white skin are all celebrated as beautiful. Sonya, while limited by her own needs, is well-intentioned. Razia, while disobedient, wants to do what's right.
The ending is short, but I felt like it got to a good place. Everyone in the story was able to grow and accept something that they initially resisted. I felt hopeful that all of them- Razia, Sonya, Aziz-  could have loving relationships with one another and the other people who mattered most to them.
2 reviews1 follower
November 17, 2013
I have become a huge fan of Sheryl Sorrentino's work. She clearly has a gift for writing compelling stories that touch on difficult and emotional issues while delivering an engaging and entertaining story. Stage Daughter is her fourth book and I absolutely loved it. Beautiful character development and thought provoking. Sheryl takes a risk by delving into real life issues involving family and faith in our delicate post 9-11 time. When I started the book I thought that I'd be more drawn to the relationship between single mom, Sonya and her preteen daughter, Raiza. Much to my surprise, I became consumed by Aziz, the Muslim yoga teacher, whom fathered Raiza during a brief tryst with Sonia before his arranged marriage was consummated. I was surprised by his reaction to Raiza after she tracked him down. While I anticipated tension and rejection I was encouraged to see that he genuinely wanted to get to know her and welcome her into his family as his own. This gesture causes problems with his wife who had no idea that he had a child out of wedlock and is now expected to welcome Raiza into the fold. The author's intelligence and passion shines through with her beautifully developed characters. Sheryl Sorrentino does not disappoint. I have found each of her four novels to be compelling and fun to read. If you belong to a book club Stage Daughter is an excellent choice for your reading list as there is a lot to discuss. And I would love to see one of her books on the big screen – Stage Daughter would make a great movie!
Author 7 books41 followers
October 1, 2013
When asked to review Stage Daughter by the author, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. Being familiar with the artist previous work The Floater left a good feeling in my gut that Stage Daughter would be nothing more than exceptional. Sorrentino has the power and ability to paint a vivid image of such relate able yet flawed characters that make them so authentic and original in every way imaginable. Once an aspiring actress Sonya wants the best for her daughter Razia but her way of delivering the message may come off the wrong way. Pushing her daughter away. Then there's Aziz, Razia dad whom wasn't given the chance to be the best dad possible, yet he begins to face his own battles. Razia, is as talented as she is beautiful but she has to choose to either follow her heart or do as her mother expects. Sorrentino doesn't shy away from the tough choices that make us face our own realities. Although the pacing was a bit slow the message and churning emotions will make you proud to have read this book. Sorrentino is one author on the rise to watch and Stage Daughter sets her apart from the rest. Go get your copy today!!
Profile Image for Kate Bracy.
Author 4 books7 followers
July 21, 2016
Stage Daughter is an ambitious novel with a lot on its mind. Sonya Schoenberg is a single mom who has a lot of past to cope with. Her 12-year-old daughter Razia cuts her no slack, and forces both to face the fallout of biracial heritage, parents they’ve never known, and a world that seems to be stacked against them.

I admire the candor with which the author brings forward emotionally charged stories that help us consider our views on Islam, sexual choices, mother/daughter relationships and how to negotiate the tricky waters of revisiting the past.

The story moves along at a great pace for keeping the reader on board. The challenges faced by the characters will ring familiar bells for anyone who is adopted, biracial, a member of a religious minority, raising a teenager, or just carrying the burden of childhood rejection. Sonya seemed to be a little lost in her own anger, which made Razia’s behavior understandable. I’d have been more comfortable if Razia had acted more like twelve, and Sonya had acted more like a grown-up – I would have held more hope that both could outgrow their hurt feelings and move on.
Profile Image for Alretha Thomas.
Author 14 books213 followers
July 4, 2013
If you’re a mother, a daughter, a father or just looking for a fabulous read, you must check out “Stage Daughter.” Sheryl Sorrentino, known for taking literary risks, is at it again with her fourth novel. Her engaging writing style, coupled with her gift for storytelling, will have you quickly turning the pages as the story about Sonya Schoenberg, a biracial/bisexual single mom, unfolds. Sonya’s life becomes unraveled when her rebellious twelve-year-old daughter (Razia) decides she wants to meet her absentee father (Aziz). Razia’s request is beyond problematic for Sonya because she hasn’t seen or talked to Aziz in more than a decade. Moreover, he’s a devout Muslim and is married with two children of his own. When mother, daughter, and father do come together, it’s hellacious, hilarious, and heartwarming. Do yourself a favor and get a copy of “Stage Daughter.” Once done reading, you’ll applaud, give Sheryl a standing ovation, and put in a request for an encore.
3 reviews
July 29, 2013
I truly enjoyed reading Stage Daughter--in fact, I couldn't put it down! I loved the characters, their dilemmas, and their gradual growth and transformation throughout the book. Razia, her mom, and the dad she finds all have issues to work out, and their journeys are lively, funny, and moving. Sheryl's writing style is so fresh, current, and purely enjoyable that I became absorbed right from the first page all the way to the end. I really like it that this is the story of not just the teenager, but her parents, too--the reader really gets the sense of the challenges from various points of view, and how much each person needed to grow. There was plenty of dramatic tension, lots of everyday situations, friendships, romance, angst, humor, and a great resolution. I'm smiling as I remember how much I enjoyed reading this book!
Profile Image for Courtney.
1 review3 followers
August 22, 2013
I have read all of Sheryl Sorrentino's books and this might be my favorite, or at least a tie with her first book "Later With Myself". The story line and characters really drew me in, I was intrigued by the cross cultural aspect and the tween girl/single mom dynamic. The Middle Eastern/Muslim character, Aziz is a well known yoga instructor and has a lot of depth, I loved discovering how he was going to react to learning that he had fathered a child 12 years ago with a former girlfriend. The mom and daughter are also multi-faceted characters and I grew to admire the mom, Sonia for her strength and protectiveness and Razia, the daughter, for her chutzpah. All around they make an unlikely, but likable threesome and with the help of a few other characters, namely, Sonia's and Razia's love interests, it makes for a fun, yet deep read! I highly recommend "Stage Daugther".
Profile Image for Rebecca.
444 reviews20 followers
April 22, 2014
When I first saw this book, I was intrigued, so when I was asked to review it, I eagerly agreed.

Stage Daughter had me hooked from page one. A captivating tale of rebellious 12 year old Razia who is torn between two parents. Sonya, the mother , want to be actress, that gave up everything to raise her. And Aziz the Muslim father she never knew. This is my first book by Sheryl Sorrentino, I can't wait to read my next.
Truly an outstanding read, and I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Sienna Logan (Lost to Books).
1,058 reviews20 followers
November 2, 2013
For more of my reviews visit http://losttobooks.blogspot.com

I was intrigued into accepting this book because I was curious about how the author was going to deal with so many factors. It had the promise of rebellion, a teen trying to find herself, family values and religious conflict by which the two parents do not agree. I was interested to see how she entwined all the themes.

What I liked about Stage daughter was that it moved at a fast-pace. The chapters were kept relatively short but were filled with quite a bit of detail. The author didn't hang around in one scene for too long so this made the book easy to continue and I managed to finish it in around five hours.

As well as this, the story did have realistic elements to it. You could clearly see the emotions of the characters being true and although I didn't really connect with them, it was believable. You could see it happening in real life so it did make the book feel authentic in that sense. The strongest emotions that were believable and for me crafted well was the love of Razia. The worry, love, anger and determination for her to have the best life possible was clearly there and easy to recognise, even if Sonya was a bit controlling.

Another thing I liked was the fact that the author included more to the story than just a rebellious child. She showed different aspects of both Sonya and Aziz's lives so the book did have more depth to it. Also because the who book was written in first person it was easy to see things from the character's POV. I will admit the writing style did confuse me slightly though as each chapter brings a new view point - either Razia, Sonya or Aziz and I feel that if you are going to write in first person like that you need to state the name of the character who is narrating at the beginning of each chapter. Because Stage Daughter did not do this I found myself turning the page to a new chapter thinking "oh no, who's POV is it going to be from now." and when it first happened I even read chapter 1 again thinking I had misinterpreted who was speaking. By naming each character this problem would have been avoided.

My biggest issue with this book however is the age of Razia. The author places her at twelve years old, however because of her attitude I imagined her to be more around fifteen or sixteen. For me everything she did felt wrong for her age. I'm not saying twelve year olds don't go through these types of things but in a book it felt slightly weird to read. I mean Razia was cursing, smoking weed, piercing her own ears, running away, becoming an emo and nearly getting suspended. Her language also seemed a bit mature and stiff. In my opinion that is a lot for a child to go through in such a short time. I can understand wanting to rebel and find herself but I think the author went a bit over the top with her reactions - it just didn't feel right for her age in my opinion.

As well as this Sonya didn't strike me as the best parent. Her love for Razia was obvious but then she would go around f-ing and blinding inn the school playground and at times used violence. She also said things that made me think "would you really say that to a 12year old?!" For me it was these parts that made the book a bit far fetched for me. There was too much going on. I think the author needed to narrow down the issues and focus of a few rather than trying to cram as many as she did in.

Moreover, because there was a lot going on in the book I did feel the story was a little jumpy at times. I did read one chapter about Aziz and it seemed to come out of nowhere. There was no hints (except one and it wasn't obvious until you skim back), build up or anything - the information was dumped on you. I can see how it linked and was part of Aziz's story but I would have like more build up to that moment so it didn't seem so random.

OK, now before I go any further, I want to state that this is purely my opinion on the book. It is not meant to offend anyone so please don't take it that way, it's just how I felt when reading.

When I accepted Stage Daughter I knew there was going to be religious elements, however I didn't realise how heavy it was going to get. I will admit that at times it became overbearing and I felt like I was being lectured on matters of Islam when Aziz was speaking. He was always quoting the Quran or trying to be a good Muslim. I also feel that the author was deliberately picking on the most extreme laws in the religion. I don't know whether it was to show a cultural difference between westerners and Islamic beliefs but for me, once again it was too over the top and was a bit unbelievable. I know Islam is stricter in certain regions and I'm not saying the author didn't do her research, but I came away with a lot of questions from the book about whether Muslims really do some of the things the author listed. Although some of them were true, after checking with my friend (who is Muslim) he informed me that a lot of it was not and that they were the extremist cases which did leave me slightly annoyed as it seemed like a bit of a generalisation and stereotypical.

Overall Stage Daughter was a fast-pace read that touched upon many issues. There were parts I liked and parts I found let it down. I would have liked more on Razia wanting to become an artist as I felt besides at the beginning and end that issue disappeared and I would have liked a bit more action. For me the same thing of Sonya getting angry at Aziz and insulting him became old quickly and I would have liked more diversity. Stage Daughter is an interesting book but for me there were too many factors that stopped my connecting with it.
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97 reviews5 followers
August 30, 2013
Being a single mom is not an easy task, and it only gets harder when your daughter hits her preteens and decides she needs to meet her biological father. For Sonya Schoenberg, this is her life.

Thirteen years ago, Sonya seduced Aziz, a mysterious Muslim man. Unable to tell Aziz that she is pregnant with his baby, because his future had already been planned out for him, she decided she would be the best single mom she can be. For her, that meant pushing her dreams of being an actress aside, giving up on a social life and working paycheck to paycheck to give her daughter all the chances to be a star that she didn’t have. Unfortunately, the last thing that Razia wants is to be an actress.

Unable to connect with her mother, Razia seeks out her father. Now Sonya and Aziz are going to have to muddle through a messy web of deceit and bad choices if they have any hope of helping Razia become a well-rounded, productive adult.

Stage Daughter takes a hard look at the complexities of family in these modern times, whether those relationships are biological or not. Author Sheryl Sorrentino has done a nice job of creating flawed characters that are products of their past and cultures. It is very clear that she did her homework, and I liked that she provided the reader with new insight into a family of devout Muslims. I also appreciated that she was willing to tackle the sensitive issues of adoption and non-traditional families in this book.

While the issues the book covers are timely, I found it very difficult to connect with Sonya, which made having any sympathy for her a bit challenging. I understand that her childhood was far from being happy and “normal” and that as an adopted child she has her issues. But it was very frustrating to see her make mistakes and then lament on how her mother made the same mistakes, without Sonya seeing the connection. This dynamic probably adds to the realism of the story, but it drives me nuts when it happens in real life so to read about it was even more frustrating. The good thing is that we did get to see Sonya grow as a mother and a friend, which made her much more likeable over the course of the book.

Overall, I think that most fans of contemporary literature or chick lit will enjoy this book, especially those readers who have experience with or know single mothers. There are a lot of hot topics waiting to be discussed and deconstructed in this contemporary fiction book, so it could be a candidate for book clubs.
(This book was provided to Compulsion Reads for review bu the author.)
322 reviews8 followers
January 19, 2016
Sonya Schoenberg, once an aspiring actress with big dreams, has now resigned herself to single motherhood. For the past twelve years, she has been a dedicated parent, doing her best to support her daughter’s creative side by enrolling her in San Francisco’s prestigious Oakland Regional Conservatory for the Arts. The problem? Sonya thinks Razia should be a drama student; Razia would rather be an artist. But what are offspring for, if not to fulfill their parents’ failed dreams? The other problem? Razia wants to meet her biological father. Not going to happen, as far as Sonya is concerned. But Razia is determined. She discovers that her father is none other than Aziz Qureshi, a celebrated Kawaiti-born yoga instructor who’s married with two children—and completely unaware of her existence. To her anger, Sonya forbids her from having anything to do with him. Bitter drama ensues as Aziz fights Sonya for the right to be in his new-found daughter’s life. While I enjoyed the story, I felt that at 358 pages, the novel runs a little overlong because of its limited range of action. Sonya’s role in the story is somewhat limited by her repetitive behavior (insulting Aziz, blaming other people for her problems, etc.), which has the potential to affect the pacing. Regardless of this, however, it’s overall an engaging story worth reading at least once. I would definitely be interested in reading more of this author’s work.
1 review
January 27, 2014
I was thoroughly charmed by this book on many levels! I couldn't put it down. It's a compelling, quick and fun read, but holds many messages. Told in alternating voices by the principal characters, Sonia, Razia and Aziz, the story unfolds on several levels. It's at once a fast-paced, funny and sometimes acerbic account of a single, stressed mother who truly loves her daughter, but is unable to see beyond herself to discover who her daughter is; a self-righteous and religiously intolerant father whose orderly world is forcibly expanded when he abruptly learns that a long-forgotten one-night stand resulted in a heretofore unknown daughter; and in the middle of all of this, a confused, rebellious adolescent girl searching for self-identity, who desperately wants to know her father.

I loved the themes explored by the author with great compassion and empathy for their individual perspectives -- unrealized dreams, religious intolerance and rigidity, mother/daughter strife, unhealed wounds from one's family of origin, parental feelings of abandonment and unappreciation, race, religion and sexual orientation, and the yearning to know who one truly is. Sheryl Sorrentino's skillful writing style is aggressive and funny, yet underscored by her huge compassion and insight into complex contemporary human and social issues.
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