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The Only Girl in the Car

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  930 ratings  ·  81 reviews
The Only Girl in the Car

Bookworm and dreamer, Kathy was a young girl with a tender heart, an adventurer’s spirit, and a child’s terrible confusion about her proper place in the world. As the oldest daughter in a family of six children, she seemed trapped in her role as Big Sister and Mommy’s Helper. Then, one day, teetering on the brink of adolescence, hormones surging, sh
Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 2nd 2004 by Delta (first published January 1st 2003)
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Average rating 3.39  · 
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Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was truly a great read and a wonderful coming-of-age tale, but the reason I only give it 4 stars is because I felt as though Dobie was not being completely honest to the reader. Sometimes it seemed like she was almost in denial of her own story. She takes the role of the lost, rebellious girl of a morally-righteous family who is "looking for love in all the wrong places." While the reader must remember that she is only 14 years old at the time, it was still difficult for me to believe that ...more
Eva Marie
Feb 22, 2010 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one I know
Recommended to Eva Marie by: I forget where I heard about this from
I almost want to give this two stars because unless I really, really hate a book I don't like to hand out a one star. But I didn't finish this and I wasn't into it at all so I can't say that it's okay.
I actually started this a week ago and I'm usually on a book for a day or two before I finish. A week later and I'm not even a quarter of the way in.
I don't like Dobie and I found myself not caring about her or her family or friends. The stories were boring to me. I don't care that she only has t
Jul 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This must have been a rough story to write, since it revisits such a painful time in the author's life. Kathie Dobie's coming-of-age story, which recounts her experimentation with sex and boys, and her naive idea that she could like be one of those boys, is unselfconsciously honest. Dobie grew up in the sixties and seventies, when the adults were "letting it all hang out," and the pop culture of the times surely influenced her. Whatever ideals women tried to achieve during this time, it is still ...more
Aug 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
I found it hard to buy into the author's pop-psychology summation of herself and the people in her life, and after she stated that a student in her school was stabbed by a pencil and almost died of lead poisoning, I was put in the uncomfortable place of doubting the details that she used to create her narrative. ...more
Robert Day
I had very mixed feelings about this book.

During the first few chapters, there was this feeling of being 'soiled' to be reading a book about a 14 year old girl who is 'giving out' - like I peering through someone's bedroom window.

It was kind of bearable, so long as I kept in mind that the book was a memoir. It still felt a bit voyeuristic to be reading about the sexploits of a young teenager; but, rightly or wrongly, I could stand it if I understood these to be the true experiences of the now gr
Jan 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2011, nonfiction
This was such a sad story, but so understandable. I ached for this girl who had such a gut wrenching need to be loved for herself, and who went about finding that love in the wrong ways with the wrong people. I understood her need to be who she wanted to be, and the claustrophobia she felt when she saw the "type" that many around her expected her to be. That this created friction in her family that eventually deteriorated into volatility was unsurprising, as was her search for acceptance among p ...more
Jun 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Just wonder what her parents thought she was doing? And where was her sister who was one year younger and "so close they knew what each other was thinking"; did they never talk about where Kathy was every night? ...more
~Theresa Kennedy~
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is wonderful. It is an exploration into the past, the past I grew up in, the past of the 1970s in another state, when the boys were everywhere, driving down Thurman street and speeding past Wallace Park in NW, marijuana smoke billowing out of the open windows, when they were on the hunt, skinny, determined, beautiful and sometimes even dangerous, slowing down when they saw me rushing home after dark, alone.

So much of this book reminds me of my own life during the lonely 1970's that I
May 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
Ugh. For the first 75% of this book I was thinking, "wait, is this girl only 14?" and "wait, her mom was home when this creep came into their front yard?"

and then "She left at 10 pm when she was 15 years and her parents were cool with it?"

and then "Why didn't her parents know where she was going?"

and then "Why didn't her parents have a HUGE problem with a 33 year old man coming into their home and taking their daughter out??!"

At one point, Lil Miss Dobie is reflecting on when she was 14 and des
Oct 02, 2011 rated it did not like it
I really didn't enjoy this book. I felt like I had to keep reading it, because I wanted it to climax. I kept waiting for the author to have an epiphany of some sort, but that never happened.

I liked the author's memories of her childhood, and reading the first third of the book. So I wanted her to succeed, I wanted her to to become a heroine. That just never happened at all. She only spends a miniscule section at the end of the book discussing how she got over what had happened an
Nov 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
More like 3.5 stars if it were possible. Maybe even 4. I appreciated her honesty and lack of defensiveness in telling her story. What was missing for me was why she chose this path. It seemed like such a deliberate choice and such a radical change from her childhood. This didn't make the book less interesting for me though. It was actually thought provoking. Can this happen to any 14 year old? It seemed like her parents tried so hard to be good parents. I would have thought that something major ...more
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was sad to me - I have known girls like her, who wanted attention so badly that they would do whatever guys tell them to do, just to get that attention. The ending was great, and I am so happy that she turned her life around and realized the mistakes she made and that she was willing to write about it in the hopes to spare other young girls the humilation she endured as a result of her actions. Kudos to her for being brave enough to write about this issue that not many people think abo ...more
Dec 06, 2007 rated it it was ok
"Extravagant feelings need to be expressed physically... just to hold him was a revelation."

"The truth of this was suddenly real. I could have died; she had saved my life. We thought that's what being sisters meant."
Jun 25, 2014 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
Such a sad story of a young girl whom just wanted to fit in, be accepted. She took all kinds of nasty behaviour from those around her but the turning point was when she was gang raped on her boyfriends request. Such a sad sad story.
Clare McHugh
Feb 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Kathy Dobie writes with such verve, such attention to detail, such descriptive power that one is knocked over. A beautiful book, sad but also so true and compassionate. I will remember scenes from this memoir for a long time.
Aleyn  Merchand
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Kathy, you broke my heart...
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Super memoir that evokes the both the time period and Dobie's coming of age so clearly it hurts. ...more
Giddy Girlie
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Goodreads suggested this book to me, based on my recent consumption of memoirs and it did not disappoint. Dobie perfectly describes what it's like to be a teenage girl in transition - that point when you want something ELSE but aren't quite sure what that is. That nagging dissatisfaction that creeps along behind you and you look for any way to ditch it, even for a little while. While many young girls turn to alcohol or drugs, for Dobie she decided her escape was to be sex. Although she admits th ...more
Sarah Mclendon
Oct 23, 2011 rated it liked it
"The Only Girl In The Car," a memoir by Kathy Dobie, was a book like I'd never read before, nor is it your normal everyday book.In the beginning of the book you read about the author as a young girl at the age of 14 sitting on her front lawn in a candy- striped halter top and a pair of tight hip hugger jeans watching the traffic drift past her house. Men driving by catch glimpses of her as they begin to honk and slow down giving her the attention she is sadly craving but in reality she gets more ...more
Aug 17, 2015 rated it liked it
I read the previous reviews before writing this. I don't agree that there were too many details or that the first section about her childhood and family was boring. I found all of that interesting, even though I knew what was ultimately coming. But I have a few problems with this book.

First, parts of it were hard for me to believe. Her family is very close, eats meals together, kids go to mass and Catholic school, the whole bit, but when she is 14 her parents let her go "to the movies" with a gu
Diann Blakely
(First, please see my original review of A MISFIT'S MANIFESTO by Donna Gaines: the two books were linked in a previous piece published in the NASHVILLE SCENE / Village Voice Media)

Gaines’ coming-of-age memoir lands on bookstore shelves almost simultaneously with a friend’s debut, journalist Kathy Dobie’s THE ONLY GIRL IN THE CAR. In fact, several times toward the end of A MISFIT'S MANIFESTO, Dobie credits Gaines for offering a model of how women negotiate “normal” love relationships, with their
★¸. • * ° * ༺*Blanka*༺*°°*•.¸. ♥★

Freelance journalist Dobie grew up in a small Connecticut town in the 1960s, the oldest girl in a Catholic family of eight. Her memoir opens when she's 14, sitting on her front lawn, all dolled up in her "candy-striped halter top, bell-bottom jeans, and platform shoes," waiting to get picked up by some guy-any guy-and lose her virginity. She doesn't know much about boys or men, but she's drawn to the bad ones, those who leer, eyeing her sexual possibilities. Before long, she's had sex with a
Louise Beilby
Sep 21, 2015 rated it liked it
A frustrating, inconclusive read, albeit one which must have taken a lot of personal bravery to write.

Kathy Dobie "discovers" sex at the age of 14, but sees it mainly as something that she has to do to make boys like her. She doesn't get very much pleasure out of it other than the satisfaction of knowing that somebody wants her. But she starts to discover that the boys she is sleeping with don't view her as girlfriend material; indeed, some of them have "real" girlfriends who won't let them go a
Aug 06, 2014 rated it liked it
As a mother of tiny daughters (one 2 and the other 2 months) I have a kind of horror that my girls might be as desperate to please as Dobie. I’d like to think that my example of being opinionated, not conforming, and seeing myself as an individual with valuable thoughts and feelings will show them a strong woman. That being said, Dobie’s mother seems to be no slouch, though Dobie does not seem to respect her. We live in a day and age where stories of girls leaving with boys with disastrous conse ...more
Nov 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone looking for a good memoir
Recommended to Shannon by: I think did
Whoah! This was a ride! A relatively easy book to read, about a girl raised in a full house with a pronounced Catholic influence. Dobie tells about her own coming-of-age as a young teenager. It really makes you wonder about those girls we knew at 14 who were "slutty" or promiscuous. What was going on in their heads? I can only now assume that it was the same that went on in Dobie's head: the question of how to be loved, and finding it had nothing to do with respect. What a life lesson she learne ...more
Feb 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
Entirely too much background build-up. The first 100 pages are all family background and the connection between her upbringing and the choices that she makes are unclear. I felt for the girl who desperately craved love and acceptance to the point that she made devastating choices that would effect the rest of her life, but I just didn't enjoy the delivery of this story at all. This is one person's story, but the writer spends a lot of time building other people in and then fails to tie them into ...more
Jun 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
I don't know how to react to this book. Part of me feels like someone should be blamed for this girls actions and what caused her to react the way she did when it came to boys. But part of me feels that her actions were all rebellion against her life and parents and bc of it she ended up having things happen to her which shouldn't have happened to her. She definitely had lack of confidence when it came to boys and I feel this is why she ended up having things in her life happen to her....I don't ...more
Susan Olesen
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
A short, quick sad read about a 13 year old girl who thinks it would be cool to go out with guys and starts sleeping around with almost every one she meets. Eventually, her reputation catches up with her and she finally gains the age and wisdom to realize the boys didn't give a damn about anything but her with no pants on. I picked it up because it's more or less a local book - it actually happens the next town over from me, but it's just a sad coming-of-age book about a girl who didn't know any ...more
Feb 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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