Friday, April 17, 2009

Review: Bye Bye Miss American Pie

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Margaret Sartor takes a unique approach in her memoir, Miss American Pie. Growing up in deep southern Louisiana during the 1970s, Sartor chronicles the rollercoaster of turmoil and ecstasy that is adolescence with a diary. At its simplest, this book is a glimpse in the life of a struggling teenager, but on a deeper level, it highlights the hilarious and heartbreaking moments that move us, shape us, and define us as individuals.

An added element of interest is the particular environment in which the author grew up. The seventies held some pivotal moments in the history of the South; racial integration was just taking hold in public schools, evangelical Christianity spread like wildfire, and the sexual revolution was blossoming in the teenage community. Margaret demonstrates how unimportant these historic events seem in our personal lives with statements like, “President Nixon resigned; made an appointment to get my haircut.” They do, however, define the world we live in and, therefore, contribute to our personal belief systems.

This book would probably be familiar to anyone who kept a diary throughout their teenage years. It is easy to see how Margaret’s thoughts developed and matured between ages 12 and 18. Entries started out as simple as, “It rained today. We went to the movies,” and developed into paragraphs of personal reflection and analysis, like how to combine the conflicting morality of sex and Sunday school. One of my favorite features of this book was the author’s introduction and, in particular, her epilogue. You can see how all of these oh-so-dramatic thoughts and events of the past reverberate into adulthood, despite how trivial they may seem in retrospect.

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