The author’s adolescent diary forms the basis for an unusual memoir.
Spanning the years 1972 to 1977, Sartor’s near-daily entries tread a fine line between embarrassing self-consciousness and endearing candor as they delineate her intimate thoughts. The subjects she tackles are as varied as the cast of characters who inhabit her lively, often unpredictable, adventures. The backdrop is Montgomery, La., a small town in which her father worked as a well-respected physician and her mother raised five children. Sartor’s love life consumes a large number of entries. In the beginning, her 13-year-old affections were confined to her beloved horse Rex, but these feelings were eventually transferred to her high-school boyfriends Jackson and Mitch. From the start, though, it is obvious that Margaret’s one true love was Tommy, her trustworthy best friend and next-door neighbor. The emotional triangle that developed among her, Tommy and Jackson is depicted in the dramatic style only a teenaged girl involved in her first passionate encounters could muster. Aside from her romances, Sartor touches on Nixon’s resignation, civil rights, school admissions, elder care and family conflict. Over the course of five years, young Margaret evolved from an innocent girl who took her blessings for granted into a college-bound young woman wise enough to recognize she didn’t know all the answers. Surprises abound in this simple work. Unafraid to display her negative feelings toward others, the author also attended prayer meetings and regularly wrote about God’s importance in her life. Later, guilt consumed her as she agonized over her flakiness. Sartor was no saint. She drank, dated several boys at once and wrote constantly about her hatred for her nemesis and rival, Bonnie Dell. She knew that her behavior was far from virtuous, and her diary’s truthfulness reveals a yearning heart. In the text, Sartor’s personality changes as the years pass, and this maturation process lends her youthful voice its credibility.
A thoughtful slice of Americana.