BOOK TOUR REVIEW: Virgins by Caryl Rivers
by Caryl Rivers
For the seniors at Immaculate Heart High, hormones jousted with the quest for the State of Grace, and the hormones usually won. The Map of Forbidden Sexual Delights extended its boundaries nightly in the back seats of tail-finned cars. But the girls of Virgins also wanted more. Who could they grow up to be in a world where women were supposed to be seen, but not heard? They were rebels with a cause, before their time.
But growing up anytime is hard—finding, and losing first loves, discovering who you will be as a grownup. It’s a universal experience, one that readers of all ages can relate to.
MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
Peggy is a senior at an all girls Catholic high school. Her boyfriend Sean is also her next door neighbor, and goes to the boys Catholic high school. Although both are virgins (and Sean’s on the road to priesthood), it’s getting more and more difficult to stay that way.
As the year passes, Peggy and her friends realize that they are actually growing up, and must come to terms with that.
This book was set in the late 1950’s (I think, no specific year was mentioned so I gathered the context clues) but I think for the most part it’s aged nicely, and its’ messages are still relevant today.
Peggy is a pretty cool girl, a bit radical for her time. She’s against McCarthyism, and wants to go to New York and become a journalist. She’s prone to daydreaming, and her imagination is pretty hilarious. She and her friends are determined to make their mark on the school before they leave it.
I watched Peggy grow a great deal through the course of the book, which was pretty nice. At the beginning she is somewhat immature, but by the end she is determined.
The kids do some stunts that are pretty hilarious, and I found myself laughing out loud several times. Peggy also has a quick, sharp wit, and she often steps up with sarcastic one-liners.
The title is misleading to me. This novel is not at all about kids losing their virginity, but about the process of becoming an adult. Yes, sex ties into that, but watching your friends make stupid decisions and having to leave them is one of the things growing up is all about.
The ending of this book was heartbreakingly bittersweet, but also full of promise. I just know in my soul that Peggy went on to do great things. 🙂
About the Author
Caryl Rivers has been called “one of the brightest voices in contemporary fiction.” Her novel Virgins was an international critical success, published in the US, UK, Sweden, Germany and Japan. It was on many best seller lists and in paperback (Pocket Books) sold more than a million copies. Her novels deal with American women trying to find a foothold in a rapidly changing world. She was included in the book Feminists Who Changed America from the University of Illinois Press.
She is a nationally known author, journalist, media critic and professor of Journalism at Boston University. In 2007 she was awarded the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for distinguished journalism. She is the author of four novels and nine works of non-fiction, all critically acclaimed. Her books have been selections of the Book of the Month Club, Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club and Troll Book club. The Chicago Tribune says of her, “Few other writers are as funny as she, and none funnier. Yet she is capable of wrenching your heart and soul.” There are film offers in place for the new edition of Virgins.
Her articles have appeared in the New York Times magazine, Daily Beast, Huffington post, Salon, The Nation, Saturday Review, Ms., Mother Jones, Dissent, McCalls, Glamour,Redbook, Rolling Stone, Ladies Home Journal and many others. She writes frequent commentary for the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribuneand Womensenews. Of her book Selling Anxiety: How the News Media Scare Women, Gloria Steinem says it “will save the sanity of media watchers enraged or bewildered by the distance between image and reality.”
She has co-authored four books with Dr. Rosalind Barnett, senior scientist at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis—the latest (2011) being The Truth About Girls and Boys: Confronting Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children. Articles based on the book won a Casey medal for distinguished journalism about children and families and a special citation from the National Education Writers association.