19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2006
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?
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2006
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!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2006
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.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2006
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.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2006
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. She also updates her readers on the whereabouts of her friends and family that figure heavily in her teenage diary, which helps to form a more complete picture of a certain place and time. Even readers who don't share her southern background will relate to her voice and story.
MISS AMERICAN PIE can best be summed up by the Philip Larkin epigraph that Sartor opens her memoir with: "That this is a real girl in a real place, In every sense empirically true! Or is it just the past?"
--- Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2006
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2006
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.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2007
I suppose in this "reality" obsessed culture we now live in anybody can get their diary published and have it lauded as an important piece of modern literature or a work of brilliance or any of the myriad cliched accolades critics vomit up.
Well I don't get it. Miss American Pie is a dull, dull, dull read. The forward is promising and I thought Sartor's teenage musings would be profound or intriguing or at the least interesting but it's not. Sartor is a spoiled rich kid whose father is a doctor and mother is an artist. She has several horses, equally well off friends and an obviously successful future ahead of her.
Her diary entries, if you can call them that, average two to three sentences at the most. Entries range from "May 20: I feel really bad," to "February 6: BAD headache today," to "April 1: Stella is unhappy at her job". She mopes around because she thinks she's ugly or because her best friend likes a guy she likes or because her hair is frizzy. There isn't anything of substance to make this a worthwhile read or shed some new light on adolescence. I understand it's a diary of a teenage girl but it's still boring.
If a diary is to be published, it should be dynamic, intriguing, shedding new light on the protagonist or a particular situation or a period of time. Miss American Pie fails on all counts. It doesn't help that no one has a clue who Margaret Sartor is either.
Miss American Pie could have been more effective if it was written as an actual memoir instead of the dull, dull, ramblings of a teenage girl's diary.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2006
Beautifully written introduction and prologue bookend diary entries that are both universal and unique. Sartor writes from the perspective of a talented painter and photographer, and is no less gifted in this art form. Each one of us can find our own stories sifted throughout her daily entries. In the end we are reminded above all else to search our own histories and recall and embrace those events which guided our individual developments as spiritual people.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2006
I was born in the hometown that was the setting of this book and grew up in a nearby town. The book really captured growing up in the South or anywhere. I loved the book and will recommend it for my book club. Margaret Maring