BLOOMING: A Small-Town Girlhood by Toth Susan Allen

BLOOMING: A Small-Town Girlhood

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Reminscences of Ames, Iowa, in the 1950s: a girlhood of Velveeta sandwiches and few epiphanies. Toth grew up in a small town of slim statistics (one murder, one divorce, one black family), where teachers with blued hair talked of ""preparation for life"" and the world, like division problems, seemed to come out even. These recollections of her early years, seen in brief contrast to her own daughter's present, are full of concrete detail--shopping jaunts, science projects, the prospect of a first kiss--but they lack lasting flavor: Toth does best reconstructing specific scenes from the past, seems less sure surveying the spiritual landscape. One can read of Blaine's Pool trysts, dull summer jobs, and holiday dinners with quick recognition, and understand, to some extent, why Toth felt inseparable from her heartland address when she first left for Smith, why she continues to be pulled by its memory. Ames was a safe place of some integrity, not the plasticized Burger King-dom of today. Ultimately, though, these vanilla memories need a sharper edge or a stronger contrast than she provides through her daughter's modern example. With its insights and competent prose, Blooming is smooth but bland compared to many memoirs, offering a modest, fuzzy-slippered appeal.

Pub Date: May 29th, 1981
Publisher: Little, Brown