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Miss American Pie: A Diary of Love, Secrets and Growing Up in the 1970s Paperback – May 29, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (May 29, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596912014
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596912014
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.5 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,095,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Beginning in 1972, at age 13, Sartor records the highlights and low points of her formative years in Montgomery, Ala. Through succinct diary entries (Mar. 1, 1973: "I hate my buck teeth. I love Edgar Napoleon") that grow more insightful as she ages, the author, who teaches documentary studies at Duke, reveals her insecurities, spiritual awakening and early sexual encounters. Hers is a very normal American childhood, though a few things stand out: she experiences desegregation firsthand (she's white, but witnesses racism toward black kids) and is torn between her evangelical Christian community and her sectarian household. There are moments of impressive maturity and self-awareness, such as the May 18, 1977, entry: "I'm giving the invocation at the graduation ceremony. I'm sure they asked me because I'm the only kid willing to pray out loud who doesn't hand out pamphlets on the Second Coming"; or June 1, 1977: "Can you be alone when you are physically with someone?" Sartor's reproduction of her diaries differs from traditional memoirs in its lack of adult interpretation of events, told through the distance of time and wisdom. That may make it unusual, but publishing such generally mediocre diaries feels self-indulgent.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up–Sartor's diary entries begin in 1972, the year of her 13th birthday, and continue until she is 18. All around her, in her rural Louisiana town, things were changing. Girls and boys were dating, the local high schools were becoming integrated, and new Evangelical Christian churches were forming. Despite the turbulent times, the author's writing reflects the typical concerns and crises of a teenage girl, from shopping for bras with her mother to taking placement tests at school to trying to figure out how to kiss without bumping noses. An introduction and epilogue provide some historical context, but the bulk of the text consists of the diary entries without further comment. Black-and-white photographs (presumably of the author, though no identifying information is provided) are placed at the beginning of each calendar year. The entries gradually reveal Sartor's growth over the years, but the book's format forces a tight focus on whatever events were most important at the time they were recorded. While some teens might be intrigued by this peek into someone else's life, this title may have difficulty finding an audience.–Beth Gallego, Los Angeles Public Library, North Hollywood
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Thank you for sharing it with us, Ms. Sartor.
Kitchen Diva
Beautifully written introduction and prologue bookend diary entries that are both universal and unique.
Boy next door
Diaries are one of my most favorite types of books to read.
Paul Allaer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Douglas J. Meffert on July 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In the pages of Miss American Pie, Margaret Sartor allows the reader to craw inside her head and feel the comical, quixotic and paradoxically, angst-filled, and analytical reflections of her life and her richly-described family and friends. Growing up in the same era with a simlar family, I was transported back to my own adolescence. However, growing up in a very different environment, many of Margaret's experiences were as surreal to me as life on Mars. Through this book, I re-evaluated my priorities, my belief systems, and my notions on what is right and wrong. Just as importantly, I had a heck of an enjoyable ride all the way through. So, when is the movie coming out?
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By doris day on July 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As a New York transplant who grew up in the deep south I find myself transfixed and a little heartbroken by this absolutely wonderful book. Margaret Sartor's account of her teenage years spent in the town of Montgomery, Louisiana made me miss something I thought I had escaped... home.

Sartor's descriptions of romance and family are alternatly hilarious and heartbreaking. Miss American Pie ALMOST makes me want to relive my adolescence! But, as Sartor seems to have done, I would pay more attention the second time around. Read this book!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Wildflower1977 on October 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read this book in just a few sittings, and then recommended it to my mom and all of my girlfriends. (They all loved it too) Although there is nothing particularly remarkable or extraordinary about this girl's life, you feel like you're allowed in on all of her secrets, a feeling that appeals to most women I know. The format, with short diary entries, made the reading go very quickly.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Reader from Monroe on July 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Margaret Sartor is a native of Monroe, Louisiana, who graduated from high school in 1977 and then went off into the world. She is a respected photographer who teaches at Duke University. Now Sartor has published a memoir of an unusual sort. MISS AMERICAN PIE consists of Sartor's diaries from ages 12 to 18. In the midst of the kind of teenage angst that is common to most of us, Sartor was able to turn her budding artist's eye on herself and those around her. The result is a memoir that takes us beyond the everyday, into a mind that is bright and intelligent, questioning the world around her even as she tries to fit in. Full of self-awareness and keen observation, MISS AMERICAN PIE is the story of one girl's journey into adulthood, but in some ways it is the story of us all.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on July 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Like all good Southern writers, Margaret Sartor sets the scene in her introduction to her memoir, MISS AMERICAN PIE: "Montgomery, Louisiana, isn't a very small town, but it's small enough. In the 1970s, the divorce rate was nonexistent, church attendance was roughly 100 percent, and the rules of proper behavior were generally agreed upon, if often ignored....We purchased cigarettes from vending machines, rode bikes without helmets, and thought seat belts were for wimps...On the whole, I would say my hometown was entirely typical of its time and place, more confused than reactionary, a sort of stranglehold of befuddlement."

What follows are the diary entries of Sartor during her delicate, angst-filled teen years from 1972 to 1977. Though her daily accounts are sometimes brief ("August 12 --- I am 14 years old today. Got perfume and money"), others highlight the political climate at the time, through the unfiltered eyes of an innocent young girl as yet unjaded by the world: "August 5th --- No one knows what the school board is going to do. If they don't come up with a desegregation plan, then schools can't open. A monkey at the zoo bit two people from town."

Sartor's teenage self also struggles with boys, her own burgeoning desires, her faith, her family, and her unruly hair. She grapples with her conflicted feelings about love, speculates about who will ask her to the school dance and wonders if she will ever be satisfied with her life.

Some readers might find the short entries somewhat tedious ("November 20 --- My butt still hurts"), but Sartor bookends her diary with an introduction and an epilogue filled with her insights as an adult, which serves to place her childhood observations in thoughtful context.
Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Teresa Capone on July 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
From the first word, I felt like I was the author of Miss American Pie. Margaret Sartors' diary had pieces of my own. The seventies were a great time to grow up, even with all the experimentations, most of us did grow up to be happy. I'm glad to have read this book and hope to read more of her books.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mama Dearest on July 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Miss American Pie is not a typical stuffy memoir because it's taken from the author's own diary entries from when she grew from a child into a teen back in the '70s. As a child of the '70s, I could relate on so many levels.

I have a special place in my heart for southern writers, because I just think they emote better on paper than writers from any other region or country. Margaret Sartor has a poetic way with her words, and there are some lovely passages in this book.

Sartor's not afraid to open up and let us see her friends, family and even herself in all their positive and/or negative lights. Like any teen diary, Sartor's is poignant, funny and, at times, selfish. I was a little side blinded when a new family member came out of left field!

I enjoyed what few photos there are, and really appreciated the epilogue that updated what her cast of characters were up to these days.

Thanks for the interesting read, Mrs. Sartor. Hope to read more from you in years to come.
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