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3.45  ·  Rating details ·  3,135 Ratings  ·  245 Reviews
Cherry Vanilla, twelve years old with a penchant for short leather skirts and make-up, has one ambition: to become the most famous 'lot lizard', or truck stop whore, in the business. With his blonde curls and naked ambition he is determined to be more woman than most and to match his idol, rival and mother, Sarah - also working the lot.
Paperback, 166 pages
Published August 1st 2000 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published 2000)
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MJ Nicholls
Feb 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
The Correspondents, #1

Dear J T Leroy,

I am your biggest fandangle. I love how you wrote those two books about child abuse under a fake name. I love how you paid a boring Brooklyn writer to pretend to be you to make the shitty shit more real. When I was a child I too hung around trailer park hookers and helped perform fellatio on beer-sodden belliferous brutes. (I didn’t really, but hey!) I like how your books are written at a level children can understand and from the POV of kids, because if ther
Sam Quixote
Jun 08, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The strange thing about JT LeRoy’s Sarah is that the story of the author is far more interesting than the story she writes in this novel - it’s almost always the other way around! JT (“Jeremiah Terminator” - I guess the name should’ve been a giveaway) was a transgender woman who grew up as an abused, drug-addicted teenage boy prostitute in the South and Sarah was her heavily autobiographical debut novel.

But after six years of this charade, the hoax that was JT LeRoy was uncovered in a 2005 expo
Dec 27, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I doubt this book would have anything of the modest cult reputation it briefly enjoyed if it weren't for the myth of JT LeRoy that lent it some very dubious "authenticity." It's not that there isn't a compelling story here: mother/son dependency, sexual exploitation, transgendering---hey, it could have been something amazing had the author had any concern whatsoever for the writing and not in manufacturing a "legend" of a life story. But now that LeRoy has been debunked as a fraud, the attention ...more
Sep 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have blogged about the whole J.T. Leroy/Savannah Knoop/Laura Albert controversy (read: literary hoax) recently and in the past. I find much of the chicanerie and lying resorted to by Albert and Knoop (to advance Albert's publishing agenda) to have been grossly offensive. A particularly awful component of the charade was the fact that Albert told writers whom she needed things from that J.T. was suffering from AIDS. That's really, really low.

That much said, I'm conflicted, because Albert has c
Feb 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When this book first came out, everyone was raving about it. It was touted as the true story of a boy whose mother was a truck stop hooker and drug addict, who groomed him to work in the "family business" at a very young age. It's haunting and beautifully written. Once you read it, you can't forget it.

JT Leroy became an instant celebrity. Everyone wanted to interview him, and because of his strange upbringing, he felt more comfortable dressing as a girl during his appearances. No problem there,
Cat Baron
Apr 28, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got through this book twice! The second time I ripped each page into many small pieces. This is quite possibly the worst book I have ever read. Strike that, take out the possibly.
Monica Floyd
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
(I'm glad I missed out on the J.T. LeRoy hoax. So let's completely ignore that.)

Sarah is about Cherry Vanilla , a boy so desperate for love, any inkling of something that resembles love, that he will go to any lengths for it. Especially from his brash, neglectful mother, Sarah.
Sarah who slaps him across the face. Sarah who used to dress him as a girl to help her steal from the supermarket. Sarah who abandons him for months at a time all throughout the rural States...

But she always comes back,
Jul 22, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was so excited about reading this. It just seemed such an odd, sick kind of book, with a cult reputation - the kind that particularly appeals to me. I had read that it was a semi-autobiographical account of the author's life, and this spurred me into acquiring the book as quickly as I could. However, it seems that the author of this book is in actual fact a woman who has never experienced any of these things! How fraudulent. I even skipped this one past other books in my 'to be read' list just ...more
Feb 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I finally decided to read this much-lauded piece of cult fiction recently and I have to say I’m so glad I did. I can now call myself a J.T. LeRoy fan, folks.

This is the story of Cherry Vanilla, a teen transsexual trucker prostitute. This amazing story takes place in two separate truck stops in West Virginia. At first I found the reading of this book daunting because of the local hillbilly dialect it’s written in, but after you get through that hurdle, an amazing story starts to unfold before you
The boy, through spit-wet eyes, told him a tale of love

My boyfriend read this a few days before me, closed it and upon being asked what he thought replied: "just read it". I did and I later found out it was the best book ever read. I quickly came to share his opinion.

Sarah is a first person account of Cherry Vanilla, a twelve year old boy, who wants more than anything to become the best "lot lizard" there is. In his quest to attain fame as a truck stop whore he leaves the home he has become use
Jan 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Josh by: Carol
Say what you will about the controversy surrounding the whole "JT LeRoy" thing, but I liked this book quite a bit. It had that weird, dark, funny, mystical, fractured undercurrent that is my favorite part about William S. Burroughs, it had a touch of magic to it, and the author really had the power to make you understand the sexuality of something you will (God willing) never Know (in the Biblical sense). It was also extremely short, which I think was very appropriate given the subject matter. A ...more
Dec 13, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very well remember the controversy around this book in the early 2000's with the unmasking of the hoax in 2006 by New York Magazine and the New York times -- for more information on the fraud/hoax about the author:
The woman who sold the film rights to the book was subsequently sued for fraud and had to pay damages. And the woman she paid to "appear" as the author, wrote her own book in 2008. The more serious damage I think resides with both the transgen
Zuky the BookBum
Aug 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, 4-stars, 2016
Also read my review here:

Wow I don't know what to say really.

I think that most people rating this book have judged it based on the author's hoax at claiming this was a true story but if you ignore all that mess, what you find here is a really weird, heart breaking and hilarious novel. I think people need to start looking at this as a stand-alone novel and push the whole scandal to the side to see how brilliant this book actually is.

I wasn't sure why I de
Christey Foster
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 11, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: almodovar fans
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lord Beardsley
Dec 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2008
After reading this book the second time around, I have to say I truly appreciated the dark humor as well as the magical, dark realism of the characters and setting. It's a book that stays with you after reading it, and overall I found it a thoroughly engaging story. I just wish the other stories that came after this one didn't go down the road of "memoiresque" victim fic. I appreciate the weird world created in this, and after reading it I felt that the following stories should have taken a more ...more
May 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drugs, gay-agenda, brutal
Disturbing and fascinating with an excellent grasp on slang and mannerisms, but lacking a narrative that compels outside of the shock value. Not that the shock value is bad, per se, it just didn't feel like a means to an end. Some sections were a little haphazard, and while the characterization is the strong point, the actual plot lags behind the limited character growth. Pooh and Sarah/Sam's interaction is among some of the strongest and simultaneously weakest in the novel, with similar issues ...more
Dec 17, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The history behind this book is what drew me to reading it. It is perhaps the greatest Hollywood-ization of an ghostwriter. J.T. LeRoy was marketed as a teenager on the Hollywood scene, even making friends with writers such as Susie Bright and showing up in photos with celebrities. J.T. LeRoy is non-other than a 40 year old woman with a great imagination. However, as a society we are like middle America drawn to cashmere at Old Navy when it comes to reading about other peoples misfortune. It's w ...more
Daniel Levesque
Laura Albert needs to write a tell-all now. Savannah Knoop's book didn't cut it for me. Laura owes us one. Sarah is a good great book. It's unfortunate it went down the way it did. Now it's easier to be mad at Laura for telling reprehensible lies to get ahead than it is to admit that this was a beautifully written book. Going on the written word alone, this is a damn good book. Even the biggest haters have to admit that it was, at one time, possibly their favorite book.
Shannon Stevens
Nov 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
By far my favorite tale of teenage cross-dressing truck stop prostitution.
Dull, never thought I'd say that about abused underaged prostitutes but this book is dreary and meh...
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because of the documentary about the JT Leroy hoax, Author: The JT LeRoy Story. It was an incredibly interesting, deeply weird and pretty fucked up film so I got interested in the actual pieces of literature that started it all. Actually having read this book I can't for the life of me understand why it enjoyed such a cult following. It's ridiculous. It's not good, or interesting and it's absolutely not skillfully written. I can't imagine why Winona Ryder found it compelling eno ...more
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found out about this book by stopping on a documentary the other day about JT Leroy and his work. I'm so glad that I did. This story is both tragic and graphic in its telling, but I couldn't put it down. The author has a way adding poetic imagery to a depressed situation. This piece truly has an honest voice. I'm blown away. I will say though that being open to reading about gender fluidity is a must to enjoy this book.

This book really takes a look at how our experiences shape our moral compas
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Fuck, I wish she'd kept writing—had some real talent on her...
Oct 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
An odd little book at just 166 pages (and I'm guessing not quite 50,000 words), Sarah tells the story of a 12 year old boy, whose names are numerous, and his one desire to become a world-famous 'lot lizard' (or whore, to you and I). He idolises his mother and in an attempt to become just like her, he dons leather mini-skirts and stiletto heels, he grows his hair into long, golden locks and he walks the truck yard looking for 'tricks'. Naturally, it's only a matter of time before She-Ra/Sarah/Sam ...more
Jul 30, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
my relationship with jt leroy:

i came across his books about two years ago at shakespeare & company while waiting on a friend of mine to pick up his books. as soon as i did the math and figured out how old he was supposed to be, i laid down a bullshit card and got pissed off. so some teenager writes a hysterical book full of insanity and he gets published?! i was jealous. fuck that kid.

then, those who care find out about laura albert. suddenly, i'm all down for jt leroy. it think it's great.
Cheryl M-M
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is an unusual but strangely compelling read. It’s as if the world of truck stop prostitution exists as a solitary planet in the universe called earth. To the so-called lizards it is the only life they know and nothing seems to be able to penetrate the bubble of pay as you go sexual relations.

Sarah, Cherry Vanilla or Sam are all one and the same person, who he or she is depends on the situation and environment they find themselves in. Sometimes she is the pretty little girl mirage, sometimes s
Juliet Macey
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I devoured Albert's books (“Sarah” and “The Heart…”) after watching the documentary "Author: The JT LeRoy Story." The latter tale is undoubtedly a fascinating one and it's easy to get swept up by the mind-blowing intricacies and spectacle, losing sight of Laura Albert/JT's writings themselves. But make no mistake, these are luminous, neon-veined works in which LA/JT somehow managed to alchemize words into perfect-bound encapsulations of the core truths of being human.

"Sarah" is truly something
I've always wanted to read this book, before and after the whole ruckus about the author's identity, so I was pretty happy to purchase it for only 150 yen, and tried to give the book as much credit as possible. After all, imagination and honesty to her/himself is the only thing an author needs. But I'm sorry to say, "Sarah" just wasn't that good, there was no imagination except for wild guessing at what the reader might in this particular case take for an imagination, and there was none of this ...more
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Laura Victoria Albert is the author of writings that include works credited to the fictional teenage persona of JT LeRoy, a long-running literary hoax in which LeRoy was presented to the public and publishers as a gender-variant, sexually questioning, abused, former homeless drug addict and male prostitute. Albert described LeRoy as an “avatar” rather than a “hoax,” and claimed that she was able t ...more
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