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Trouble began in 1963. I'm not blaming it on President Kennedy's assassination or its being the beginning of the sixties or the Vietnam War or The Beatles. The trouble I'm talking about was my first real trouble, the age-old trouble. The getting in trouble as in Is she in trouble? trouble. As in pregnant. As in the girl who got pregnant in high school. Beverly Ann Donofrio Trouble began in 1963. I'm not blaming it on President Kennedy's assassination or its being the beginning of the sixties or the Vietnam War or The Beatles. The trouble I'm talking about was my first real trouble, the age-old trouble. The getting in trouble as in Is she in trouble? trouble. As in pregnant. As in the girl who got pregnant in high school. Beverly Ann Donofrio wasn't bad because she hung out with hoods - she was bad because she was a hood.


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Trouble began in 1963. I'm not blaming it on President Kennedy's assassination or its being the beginning of the sixties or the Vietnam War or The Beatles. The trouble I'm talking about was my first real trouble, the age-old trouble. The getting in trouble as in Is she in trouble? trouble. As in pregnant. As in the girl who got pregnant in high school. Beverly Ann Donofrio Trouble began in 1963. I'm not blaming it on President Kennedy's assassination or its being the beginning of the sixties or the Vietnam War or The Beatles. The trouble I'm talking about was my first real trouble, the age-old trouble. The getting in trouble as in Is she in trouble? trouble. As in pregnant. As in the girl who got pregnant in high school. Beverly Ann Donofrio wasn't bad because she hung out with hoods - she was bad because she was a hood.

30 review for Riding In Cars With Boys

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I picked this up at the library as a book on cd. I was in a rush and recognized the title as something I'd heard of before (probably from the movie that was apparently made from it) and the blurbs said it was funny. I'll spoil that one for you right now, it was not funny. Not even a little. The best thing it has going for it is that it's short. She keeps reminding us over and over how much her entire life sucks because she got pregnant in high school and she's so dramatic about it ("...no no no, I picked this up at the library as a book on cd. I was in a rush and recognized the title as something I'd heard of before (probably from the movie that was apparently made from it) and the blurbs said it was funny. I'll spoil that one for you right now, it was not funny. Not even a little. The best thing it has going for it is that it's short. She keeps reminding us over and over how much her entire life sucks because she got pregnant in high school and she's so dramatic about it ("...no no no, you have to understand, *I'M* the girl who got pregnant in highschool"). Frankly, there are entire towns of teenage mothers that have gone on to be productive citizens without begging for sympathy from anyone that will listen. We get it, it's hard, there is no one that will contradict that. The whiny tone that the book is written in feels like she's trying to elicit all of this understanding from the reader about her neglect of her son (she mentions that after her mother points out how dirty her kid is, she realizes she can't even remember the last time she bathed him). Feel sorry for me, it's hard to be a teenage mother and I don't really want my son (and she's still complaining about this fact when she's more than a decade passed being a teenage mother). She also occasionally reminds how sometimes she likes to be mean to her kid, because it's funny. It goes on like this and you keep waiting for the part where she realizes that she's the most self-absorbed person on Earth and decides to make a change (not to mention, I'm waiting for the part that makes me so much as crack a smile) and it never comes. The audio book comes with a special interview with the author done 10 years after the book came out and she still doesn't get it. In her 40's still acting though she's the only one on Earth that matters. I'm glad I didn't pay for this book, why would I want to reward someone financially for committing to paper that she's a neglectful and sometimes abusive mother. You don't get a pass card because you admit it. I get the feeling that if you bedazzled a track suit with "TERRIBLE MOTHER" across the ass, this woman would buy it and think she was clever.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kristi

    As part of a grad school psychology class, I was required to analyze a movie from one of a variety of topics. The movie version of this book was the option I chose. I actually felt that the characters, as portrayed in the movie, were somewhat sympathetic. It felt, in the movies, like Beverly was struggling but doing the best she could while seemingly stuck in adolescence. There was some growth in the character... The book was, sadly, not as compelling as the movie. Yes, many of the stories were t As part of a grad school psychology class, I was required to analyze a movie from one of a variety of topics. The movie version of this book was the option I chose. I actually felt that the characters, as portrayed in the movie, were somewhat sympathetic. It felt, in the movies, like Beverly was struggling but doing the best she could while seemingly stuck in adolescence. There was some growth in the character... The book was, sadly, not as compelling as the movie. Yes, many of the stories were the same, but those that were left out of the movie gave a MUCH different feel for Beverly. In the movie, her involvement with drugs was through her ex-husband's use, her occasional experimentation, and her attempts to make money to help raise her son - foolish, yes, but using adolescent reasoning, it wasn't unforgivable. In the book, one could see that this wasn't the extent of it at all. In all honesty, she wasn't struggling against things beyond her control due to a mistake - she continually created those problems. I give it 3 stars because of the brutal honesty (though I wonder how much she edited out to make herself look better - and the thought that this is the "better" makes me shudder!). I didn't see much growth in her character even at the end. I feel bad saying this because it is her life's story, but it feels more like a repeated telling of how she used and manipulated those around her, including her child, to get where she is. Perhaps if I wasn't expecting something more inspirational of this book, I would have liked it more. But as a parent, I just can't say that this is inspirational. All I can think of is her poor child - his is a story that might be a MUCH better read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I adored the movie adaptation of this book, it made me roar with laughter and even made me cry which is a rarity.However, Riding In Cars With Boys by Beverly Donofrio just didn't live up to my expectations. In this memoir we follow Bev's journey as she becomes a teen mum and wife. She battles with her hate as she sees everyone around her moving on while she is stuck dreaming of having an education and a better life; without her son. I feel a connection to Beverley, I'm not exactly sure why but I I adored the movie adaptation of this book, it made me roar with laughter and even made me cry which is a rarity.However, Riding In Cars With Boys by Beverly Donofrio just didn't live up to my expectations. In this memoir we follow Bev's journey as she becomes a teen mum and wife. She battles with her hate as she sees everyone around her moving on while she is stuck dreaming of having an education and a better life; without her son. I feel a connection to Beverley, I'm not exactly sure why but I related to her thought processes entirely and sympathized with how her life turned out. I've seen a lot of reviews that hate on Beverly's behaviour while she and her son were growing up because the drugs and sex clearly affected her son in a negative way. However, I just found it incredibly real and honest as well as eye opening because it just goes to show life is not perfect. I love that Beverly is described as a hippie and we get to see more of what she stood for as a woman. I liked that she wanted to be independent without a husband because at the time this was mostly unheard of. We see more about her life in College while looking after a baby and her struggle with balancing all her responsibility. I'm suprised that Ray, Beverly's ex husband did not have a bigger part in this memoir and I do think that the screen adaptation showed his story in a much more shocking way. Compared to the movie the book is quite different but not necessarily in a good way. The story isn't as structured and there is a lot of abrupt time jumps. When Beverly gives birth the details are written quite graphically, I'll definitely be reading this again if my future partner ever tries to convince me to have children just so I know to say no, haha. However, while Beverly is in hospital I didn't find it very funny which was a let down compared to the movie as I remember having to pause it just because I was laughing so hard. The book just fell a little flat for me and we don't really get much of a connection or feel for the characters like I hoped. The ending was a let down because there isn't much closure and I didn't find it as touching as the film adaptation. Don't get me wrong this is a outstanding story with such a poignant message but I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the film.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    I was looking forward to reading this because it came so highly recommended, but I was so sorry I wasted my time on this book. Beverly, the main character gets pregnant as a teenager by a loser who she barely knew. What comes next is a series of time periods in her life where you are convinced that at any moment, Beverly will grow up, quit whining and do what she must to raise her son, now on her own. But with each passing year in her book, my realization grew stronger that Beverly was a selfish I was looking forward to reading this because it came so highly recommended, but I was so sorry I wasted my time on this book. Beverly, the main character gets pregnant as a teenager by a loser who she barely knew. What comes next is a series of time periods in her life where you are convinced that at any moment, Beverly will grow up, quit whining and do what she must to raise her son, now on her own. But with each passing year in her book, my realization grew stronger that Beverly was a selfish baby who should have done the right thing by her son and put him up for adoption and let responsible adults raise this child. I was incredibly disappointed in this book and instead of sympathizing with Beverly and her situation, I wound up despising her and felt incredibly sorry for her poor son who had Beverly as his mother.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hristina

    This book was a wild ride (pun intended). I enjoyed it a bunch.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I read Riding in Cars with Boys, by Beverly Donofrio. There’s a movie based on it with Drew Barrymore, but before I read the book I hadn’t seen it. As a notorious Barrymore-hater, I figured the movie would be atrocious, but surprisingly was the best I’ve ever seen Drew. I must admit I did read the book because it had a movie to go along with it, but as usual, I liked the book better than the movie. To summarize briefly, Bev is a teenage girl living in the projects who gets into some “trouble”, me I read Riding in Cars with Boys, by Beverly Donofrio. There’s a movie based on it with Drew Barrymore, but before I read the book I hadn’t seen it. As a notorious Barrymore-hater, I figured the movie would be atrocious, but surprisingly was the best I’ve ever seen Drew. I must admit I did read the book because it had a movie to go along with it, but as usual, I liked the book better than the movie. To summarize briefly, Bev is a teenage girl living in the projects who gets into some “trouble”, meaning she gets knocked up. As a pregnant teenager, she deals with the hardships of having to grow up too quickly and trying to balance her own life with caring for her child. Beverly is absolutely crazy, but she is inspiring in her own right. Actually, her insanity is legitimately proven when she visits the division of vocational rehabilitation. “If I scored crazy and smart enough, they’d send me to college; if I scored crazy and wasn’t smart, I’d get vocational training.” (Donofrio 140) She scores crazy and smart, but doesn’t quite have the initiative the DVR is looking for. They send her to community college, but she has to find her own transportation and childcare for Jason. Beverly is a captivating author. She has a brash style and doesn’t glaze over anything, but with what she has been through, that’s to be expected. It is obvious from the very beginning that she was much more intelligent than a “hood” is expected to be. She knows it, too, and tries to make the best of her life. I liked this book. It was interesting and fast paced. Usually I’m not a big fan of biographies because people’s lives really aren’t all that interesting. As Bev says, “All life is, is three or four big days that change everything.” (Donofrio 94) I can’t help but agree. Usually biographies drag on with unnecessary information, but Riding in Cars with Boys isn’t like that. It’s all relevant. The only thing about this book that irks me is the end. Suddenly the book jumps from Bev and Jason finally moving to New York, with Jason being only about 7 years old, to him attending college. I really would like to hear more about their time in the city and how Bev grows from still being a kid herself to finally becoming the mother that she needs to be. Bev isn’t a famous person who I just wanted to learn more about. She’s just a person who was born into sub-ordinary circumstances and made the best of her dismal decisions. I generally like books where at least on main character is more than a little crazy and end up idolizing them a bit more than they might deserve, but Bev, although crazy, is a good person and a good role model.

  7. 5 out of 5

    S.L.

    I read this book because I was a so-so fan of the film. I wanted to read the actual memoir. Bev is an self-centered woman who regrets the conception, birth, and life of her son. She only cares about herself, and there were moments where she seemed to glory in her child's misery. The scene that really stands out to me is when she tells Jason that Ray is gone and she seems to say how they'll be without money or food over and over until Jason breaks down, scared and unhappy. What sort of mother does I read this book because I was a so-so fan of the film. I wanted to read the actual memoir. Bev is an self-centered woman who regrets the conception, birth, and life of her son. She only cares about herself, and there were moments where she seemed to glory in her child's misery. The scene that really stands out to me is when she tells Jason that Ray is gone and she seems to say how they'll be without money or food over and over until Jason breaks down, scared and unhappy. What sort of mother does that? Her heavy drug use, her use of men while having a young child in the house, the drinking, everything led me to asking why did no one take her child from her? She was a danger to herself and her son, though she didn't care. Someone should have. Though I hope that Jason grew up to be a lovely, well-adjusted young man, I can't help but think he'll carry scars that will bleed over into his own child rearing. I read the book quickly, but I was angry throughout most of it. Bev's behavior, her acidic and unloving thoughts of her child, and her unjustified hatred/resentment of her family just blew me away. Most of what I read, I couldn't believe anyone would openly admit to, and I felt sorry for Jason. This book immediately went into my 'resell on Amazon' pile once I finished it, and I cannot recommend it to anyone. It's just an awful, self-indulgent vomit session of a selfish, narrow-sighted woman.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    I truly enjoyed this book. I also really like the movie that is based on the novel, and I have seen many reviews claiming the movie is better than the book. I truly feel both are special in their own ways. One of the things the book adds that is missing from the movie is how remarkably honest Donofrio is about herself. The movie paints her character as someone who means well, but is a victim of misfortune. Donofrio doesn't hold back in exploring her selfish, self-destructive tendencies. Many rev I truly enjoyed this book. I also really like the movie that is based on the novel, and I have seen many reviews claiming the movie is better than the book. I truly feel both are special in their own ways. One of the things the book adds that is missing from the movie is how remarkably honest Donofrio is about herself. The movie paints her character as someone who means well, but is a victim of misfortune. Donofrio doesn't hold back in exploring her selfish, self-destructive tendencies. Many reviews have also claimed this as a reason to pass on the book. Without a doubt, it was my favorite part. Because Donofrio goes to a place that is true and real and fully reflects the experience of a working-class teen mother trying to grow up with a burden she never wanted and struggles to truly love. I also felt like this book really helped me to fully understand my own mother and childhood more. My mother shares little with Donofrio's experience outside of being a very young mother, but in those sentences I felt a flash of recognition. I am having a hard time really explaining myself, which tells me this book will be one I will be thinking about and pondering for days to come. That 4 stars may just turn in to a 5 star over the next few days. Truly, a thought-provoking, harsh, honest and beautiful book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ami Sahl Nicholson

    This is a great story. I saw the movie years ago, and I am glad that the novel is absolutely nothing like it. I almost wish the film directors hadn't taken such liberties with the story, because I would love to see a movie of this as written. What I loved most about this book was the raw honesty of Beverly Donofrio. We automatically assume that all women have some sort of maternal capacity, and that attitude is a disservice to women everywhere. Some of what she put her son through was shocking, This is a great story. I saw the movie years ago, and I am glad that the novel is absolutely nothing like it. I almost wish the film directors hadn't taken such liberties with the story, because I would love to see a movie of this as written. What I loved most about this book was the raw honesty of Beverly Donofrio. We automatically assume that all women have some sort of maternal capacity, and that attitude is a disservice to women everywhere. Some of what she put her son through was shocking, but she owned her imperfections. This story was about her struggle with her own inadequacies, and how she rose above all of the things in her nature that kept her down. Most people try to put a positive spin on their past, but she laid her sins bare for her readers, and I applaud her for it. I wish it had been a bit longer, but it was a great memoir. It's a light read and very punchy. Two enthusiastic thumbs up.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Primmy712gmail.Com

    Yikes. Didn’t realize this was a memoir until I was finished and noticed that the author shared a name with the main character. I was so hoping for some kind of redemption of the main character but truthfully she was so SO awful that I could hardly stand to read the book. I was a teen mother and I could not relate in any way to her portrayal of motherhood and honestly felt somewhat disgusted at the way she neglected her sweet child. It’s very sad that she seemed to choose drugs and gross men ove Yikes. Didn’t realize this was a memoir until I was finished and noticed that the author shared a name with the main character. I was so hoping for some kind of redemption of the main character but truthfully she was so SO awful that I could hardly stand to read the book. I was a teen mother and I could not relate in any way to her portrayal of motherhood and honestly felt somewhat disgusted at the way she neglected her sweet child. It’s very sad that she seemed to choose drugs and gross men over experiencing the tenderness and magic of her son’s childhood. I did enjoy the writing style and it did make me think quite a lot so it will get a star. It was just such an unpleasant read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kris - My Novelesque Life

    3 STARS A memoir of a women remembering her teenage pregnancy and how it has come to shape her life. I enjoyed Drew Barrymore's role in the movie as much as I liked this novel - the movie and novel are different. 3 STARS A memoir of a women remembering her teenage pregnancy and how it has come to shape her life. I enjoyed Drew Barrymore's role in the movie as much as I liked this novel - the movie and novel are different.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jovana

    The movie version of this book has been an absolute favourite of mine for almost a decade, so of course, I was super excited to read this book. As expected, I really enjoyed it, although I do wish it was longer and more detailed. With just a little over 200 pages, I found the second part was too rushed, as were many other parts of the book. And, hm. How do I put this in a way that makes sense? Here goes: when I'm reading a really good memoir, I feel like I'm in a relationship with it (sounds str The movie version of this book has been an absolute favourite of mine for almost a decade, so of course, I was super excited to read this book. As expected, I really enjoyed it, although I do wish it was longer and more detailed. With just a little over 200 pages, I found the second part was too rushed, as were many other parts of the book. And, hm. How do I put this in a way that makes sense? Here goes: when I'm reading a really good memoir, I feel like I'm in a relationship with it (sounds strange I know). So, when the memoir (aka the relationship) comes to an end, I need some closure, but I didn't get that at all from this book. The ending was just too abrupt - I needed to know more! I don't say this often, but the movie was actually better than the book!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Edwina Callan

    The trials and tribulations of a teenage Mother are documented in this memoir, which should be required reading for teenagers everywhere, as a warning against excessive drinking, recreational drug use, and the problems caused by an unplanned teenage pregnancy. Overall - a very sad book, I felt so sorry for the neglect that her son was subjected to.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kathrina

    Two obstacles overcome to get this book read -- my love/hate relationship with Drew Barrymore with this crappy photo on the cover, and the clunky, sentimental title. After that, this book is a nice, quick read, with some important things to say about the experience of women in the last half of the 20th century. First off, our book group will be watching the movie together in the next week or so, and I'm braced for a Barrymore performance. I can't watch her without thinking "you spoiled E.T. child Two obstacles overcome to get this book read -- my love/hate relationship with Drew Barrymore with this crappy photo on the cover, and the clunky, sentimental title. After that, this book is a nice, quick read, with some important things to say about the experience of women in the last half of the 20th century. First off, our book group will be watching the movie together in the next week or so, and I'm braced for a Barrymore performance. I can't watch her without thinking "you spoiled E.T. child star, what gives you the nerve...", but then again she rocked it with Grey Gardens, so she's proved she has talent; it's just a certain brand of talent that sometimes gives me the I'm-sometimes-embarrassed-for-you willies. As for the book itself, there's great potential for good discussion in a women's book group, even for women born since the 60's. Some of the issues the author illuminates are still part of the American female experience, just in different costumes. What distanced me somewhat is the author's graceless relationship with her son. Even if you have your child too young, it seems to me impossible to be a naturally intelligent, thoughtful person and not give your child real love. You can be flaky, irresponsible, even negligent at times, but the innate love that cements a mother-son bond just wasn't to be found, and I'm having a difficult time understanding that. Of course there are mothers who don't love their sons, or don't show it, but it's not often a mother admits it, and then dedicates her book to him. It's a perspective on motherhood that just makes me very uncomfortable. And it reminds me that my own trials of motherhood gave meaning to my life, and maybe that makes me lucky.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I'd read Looking for Mary (which I loved) by the same author and have heard her on NPR and sought this book our on BookCrossing in trade. Talk about brutal honesty! Donofrio doesn't hold back. But with it all, the book is fresh and engaging. Such a different take on life from mine, even though we're not too far apart in years. But she drew me right in and kept me engaged through-out her story. I loved one description, especially--she's just gotten some news- some very good news, and writes: I f I'd read Looking for Mary (which I loved) by the same author and have heard her on NPR and sought this book our on BookCrossing in trade. Talk about brutal honesty! Donofrio doesn't hold back. But with it all, the book is fresh and engaging. Such a different take on life from mine, even though we're not too far apart in years. But she drew me right in and kept me engaged through-out her story. I loved one description, especially--she's just gotten some news- some very good news, and writes: I felt like Hester Prynne must've felt in the next chapter, the one that never got written, the one where she's in the woods on her way to the rest of her life andfinally rips off that ridiculous A and throws it in the camp fire. I created a new tag just because of this book -- "Yikes"

  16. 4 out of 5

    Arianna Connal

    It was an honest account of a selfish kid who had a child and kind of raised it, but she never seemed to grow up herself. Not even as she was writing this stuff did she seem to have any remorse... She seems to be proud of what she did, even though, by her own account, she was a selfish, crappy mom. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it were one of those books with the person saying, "Look, I'm not happy with what I did, but this is how it was." Instead of, "Look at how I took advantage of e It was an honest account of a selfish kid who had a child and kind of raised it, but she never seemed to grow up herself. Not even as she was writing this stuff did she seem to have any remorse... She seems to be proud of what she did, even though, by her own account, she was a selfish, crappy mom. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it were one of those books with the person saying, "Look, I'm not happy with what I did, but this is how it was." Instead of, "Look at how I took advantage of everyone around me and screwed the system to get where I am educationally! Oh, yeah, by the way, I have a son that I really didn't want until he was old enough to take care of himself, but I'm proud of how he turned out. Because of me, of course."

  17. 4 out of 5

    ╟ ♫ Tima ♪ ╣ ♥

    This only gets 3-stars because the back story from the movie was embedded in my head. If I had never seen the movie, this book would've come across completely flat. This is a rare instance where I would say that the movie is way, way better than the book; including all of the story plots that were changed for the movie. Not to mention, that Penguin books did a terrible job converting this book to an eBook edition. Spacing was mid-word "im matterialy", "Si mone", etc and every single time the word This only gets 3-stars because the back story from the movie was embedded in my head. If I had never seen the movie, this book would've come across completely flat. This is a rare instance where I would say that the movie is way, way better than the book; including all of the story plots that were changed for the movie. Not to mention, that Penguin books did a terrible job converting this book to an eBook edition. Spacing was mid-word "im matterialy", "Si mone", etc and every single time the word "corner" was in the book it was written as "comer". Every time. This would be a book I'd say isn't really worth reading if you've seen the movie (or even if you haven't). It only makes half-sense unless you have all the life and characters pumped in from the movie..

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    This book is the author's own story about being a young single mother to a little boy. It is sad in parts, and very funny in others! I really liked this book (and the movie too!). This book is the author's own story about being a young single mother to a little boy. It is sad in parts, and very funny in others! I really liked this book (and the movie too!).

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chelsey

    The author thinks that being a bad mother is something to be proud of. The writing wasn't awful but man, she is just a horrible human being. The author thinks that being a bad mother is something to be proud of. The writing wasn't awful but man, she is just a horrible human being.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marlena Owens

    The movie is one of my favorites so, naturally, I wanted to read the book. When I began the book, I was a little disappointed that it was not like the movie. As I kept reading, I discovered it was much better. I read this book in three days and was left wanting more. I felt as though I had spent the weekend with Donofrio in a coffee shop, where she laid out her life's story before me. I went from watching her struggle with her son, Jason, when he was a baby, to struggling with him as a teen and The movie is one of my favorites so, naturally, I wanted to read the book. When I began the book, I was a little disappointed that it was not like the movie. As I kept reading, I discovered it was much better. I read this book in three days and was left wanting more. I felt as though I had spent the weekend with Donofrio in a coffee shop, where she laid out her life's story before me. I went from watching her struggle with her son, Jason, when he was a baby, to struggling with him as a teen and young adult. All throughout the book, Donofrio's will to do better astonished me. Coming from what she had, she realized the bad habits that kept taking her back to where she was before: a place she didn't want to be. I will cherish this book as a means of (somewhat) understanding struggles I have never had to face and recommend it to anyone who feels the need to be understood and inspired.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Walter Hutchens

    Read this for a class on memoir writing (taught by the wonderful Theo Nestor, author of How to Sleep Alone in a King Size Bed, at the Univ. of Washington in Seattle). Not surprising this book was made into a movie, she noted; it's very cinematic. I agree; if you are interested in writing, it's worth checking out this book for craft/technique. Haven't seen the movie yet, but I agree with other reviewers here that many of the narrator's choices were bad and that explicit introspection is not a pre Read this for a class on memoir writing (taught by the wonderful Theo Nestor, author of How to Sleep Alone in a King Size Bed, at the Univ. of Washington in Seattle). Not surprising this book was made into a movie, she noted; it's very cinematic. I agree; if you are interested in writing, it's worth checking out this book for craft/technique. Haven't seen the movie yet, but I agree with other reviewers here that many of the narrator's choices were bad and that explicit introspection is not a preoccupation or strong suit of this book. But this book does work well as a slice of life about a young woman in a small, economically depressed, non-cerebral NE town in the 1960s and how she finally both transcended that environment and came to appreciate some of what was good about it. The author was smart and wanted to escape. She felt suffocated by patriarchy (though that word never appears in the book) and the values of the "hoods" around her. But she was also "boy crazy" by junior high school, hungry for attention and maybe adventure and apparently unable to avoid subconsciously repeating some patterns from the lives of her parents (and grandparents). Getting pregnant and married before high school graduation stopped her, seemed to seal her fate to repeat her mother's life. Things got even worse when her "hood" husband turned out to be a heroin addict. She resented her lot, resented her parents' moralizing, resented the limited world she felt stuck in. At times she resented her son for anchoring her there. Like others I didn't like that she was sometimes reckless or negligent towards her child (dropping acid at a picnic with him playing around her, unwatched by anyone sober) and I agree she seems insufficiently contrite about some of her glaring mistakes, doesn't "own" them explicitly. I also wasn't impressed that she sought solace in drugs and promiscuity. It was the 60s, so she was partly responding to a large cultural influence, plus there was a more particular influence from the non-WASPY culture of the town she was in, but she doesn't reflect on how bad her strategies were for getting what she really wanted, doesn't dwell on her own agency in her behavior. However, some reviewers here say the narrator doesn't progress or develop as a character/human being; that's wrong. They must mean they didn't like how she changed, didn't think she changed enough or weren't paying attention. She makes explicit that she realizes she blamed her son for holding her back when actually, she comes to realize, he may have kept her from going further off the deep end. She clearly loves her son. Much of the opening and ending is about her crying out loud (for crying out loud!) about being separated from him, after expecting to feel euphoric about her freedom once she's at last able to drive him off to college, finally relieved of having to take daily care of him. So her view about her son changes. She raised him to be a feminist, which is also an important generational change (her father and mother were initially against her going to college and doted more on her brother, a favorite because of his gender, because of his "golden penis"). Her son clearly loves her, is aware he's had an unconventional upbringing but validates it as positive---not something she could have done at his age about her own upbringing. So there's lots of change in the book, though it is subtly conveyed (there is even SOME self indictment; she notes on the first page that she took "the path of most resistance," a nice turn of phrase). A men/cars/freedom motif adds literary resonance to the book. The book starts and ends with her driving her son to college. In junior high school she wants boys cruising in cars to pay attention to her. She had her first groping, proto-sexual experience in a car with a boy at 14, then suffers a damaged reputation in school after the boy gossiped about her as "easy." Her father drove her to the train station as a gesture of love. And her broken down VW bug, which she names "Cupcake," is her means of liberation---she drives it to community college, later to Wesleyan and then off to NY, often with her son along for the ride but also, significantly, sometimes alone. Also, Cupcake gets stolen twice by some boy trying to escape from a juvenile detention facility to go see his girlfriend, who had been impregnated too young, too. This motif about men, cars, love and yearning for freedom (with the risk of mistakes looming) is I think a really nice touch. It "works." Personally I found her lack of chagrin about being on public assistance for years off-putting, but she DID take initiative and worked her way through a community college then a liberal arts school on scholarship, then struck out for New York and carved out a modest life for herself there. By the end she comes to appreciate her parents' love, not just resent their attempts to control her. She's realized her son was the best thing that ever happened to her in many ways, and she knows she's made lots of mistakes. So she does change, and she confesses many sins, and writes beautifully about it all.

  22. 4 out of 5

    C

    Quite a touching book, not what I was expecting, it was better.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    This is one of those rare instances where I saw the movie before I read the book. I was very disappointed when I read The Color Purple. That is one of my favorite movies and the book did not move me emotionally like the movie did. Riding In Cars with Boys is another favorite movie. When reading this book, I kept picturing Drew Barrymore as Beverly. Drew's endearing personality made it easy to love Beverly and forgive her for some of her transgressions in the movie. Unfortunately, conjuring up th This is one of those rare instances where I saw the movie before I read the book. I was very disappointed when I read The Color Purple. That is one of my favorite movies and the book did not move me emotionally like the movie did. Riding In Cars with Boys is another favorite movie. When reading this book, I kept picturing Drew Barrymore as Beverly. Drew's endearing personality made it easy to love Beverly and forgive her for some of her transgressions in the movie. Unfortunately, conjuring up the memory of Drew was not enough to really like the real Beverly. There were many times, during the story, that I thought she was a terrible mother and really should not have been left to raise her child. Many things were different than the movie, but I can see how things are added or changed to make a story flow better on the screen.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alastair Patton

    Loved this book! I kept thinking of Drew Barrymore and Brittany Murphy throughout the reading. Donofrio gives everyone a frank memoir about selfishness, motherhood, and growing up.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Em

    Read it in a weekend, I had high expectations from the movie but found Bev to be tiring, defensive, and lacking growth. Lots of victimhood and negativity. Skip it and watch the movie instead

  26. 4 out of 5

    Fallon Perrault

    I thought this book was way better than the movie! This book shows how a girl who was doing well had dropped her high expectations and hopes and dreams due to her son. Her husband was a slob who was always in the way and late to pick up their son or made up lies and excuses as to where he was. This girl makes an amazing change to keep her and her son in the lead to success. She does not want her son to fail like she did in life. This book will enlighten you in many ways!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Juliana Graham

    A really easy read with interesting, though not particularly likeable characters. Beverley was obviously a smart girl who made a mistake by getting in with the wrong guy but turned things round (with major ups and downs along the way). The version of the book (audio book) that I had featured a lengthy interview with the author which was very interesting and shed a different light on some aspects of the story.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Susan Ortega

    Bittersweet story unflinchingly told with utter honesty. This should actually be read by anyone studying the 60s. Working class family´s message is Girls Don´t Go to College. Friends talk of marriage. Boys go off to war. Girl pouts but then the Sixties and their Do What You Want To Do message hits. This means She Can Go To College! But, Girl gets pregnant. Much social commentary in this Girl Meets Boy/Boy Does Drugs/Girl Raises Son tale. Loved it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I really enjoyed this book a lot and thought it was well written, and not to sound like a cliche or anything but I however felt like I can relate to Beverly on certain things. I think it's a book for people who are interested in non fiction/biographies (but we all have differences in what we like in biographies), and I didn't think the movie did a good job on basing this on the film too. In my opinion the book is definitely way better than the movie. I really enjoyed this book a lot and thought it was well written, and not to sound like a cliche or anything but I however felt like I can relate to Beverly on certain things. I think it's a book for people who are interested in non fiction/biographies (but we all have differences in what we like in biographies), and I didn't think the movie did a good job on basing this on the film too. In my opinion the book is definitely way better than the movie.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Melody

    This book is way better than the movie, and I liked the movie. I found Donofrio's voice authentic and interesting. I love reading stories about mothers who are not traditional, who articulate the dark side of having children. And who by association make me look half-way competent as a parent. An enjoyable read. This book is way better than the movie, and I liked the movie. I found Donofrio's voice authentic and interesting. I love reading stories about mothers who are not traditional, who articulate the dark side of having children. And who by association make me look half-way competent as a parent. An enjoyable read.

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