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Tammy: A Biography of a Young Girl Paperback – June, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

Book by Bellah, Melanie


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 730 pages
  • Publisher: Aten Pr (June 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0966931203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0966931204
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,313,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
Melanie Bellah's story of her daughter Tammy's life and death is moving but tragic, not least because Bellah seems unaware of the role her ectraordinarily permissive parenting seems to have played in her sensitive daughter's suicide. The author writes with enormous depth and compassion about her daughter's struggles, but at no point during Tammy's teenage years does it appear that firm boundaries were set or that Bellah and her husband attempted to intervene on their daughter's behalf.
Sexually active with a multplicity of partners by the time she was 14, by 16 Tammy was involved in an intense relationship with a twice divorced teacher twice her age. Her mother reacts to this news by philosophising that at least Tammy seems happy, although perhaps her man has a character flaw. Metaphorically shrugging her shoulders at the impossibility of stopping this child from a sexual relationship which is astoundingly inappropriate at best, Bellah blathers on about how she wants her daughters to be "free" and "without guilt" about sex instead. There are suicide attempts, an intense friendship with a heroin addict who steals from everyone and finally, Tammy falls hopelessly in love with a black heroin addict twice her age with a prison record, who has been separated from his wife for a week. She is 18. Her parents express cautious disapproval. As a mother, at this point I had a strong desire to shake Melanie Bellah extremely hard and point out a few things about protecting children. Bellah is confounded and dazed by her daughter's tragic end. She cannot fathom it at all - she muses that Tammy was "too beautiful" and "too sensitive" or "too loving" and that the whole problem lies with the way that the world treats women. Globally, perhaps that's so.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. Acheson on January 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a frustrating book, which is only augmented by the fact that it is poorly and inconsistent in its' writing. The author, who is Tammy's mom, pleads ignorance thoughout of her daughter's troubles. Come on...the girl tries to commit suicide once, she's screwing everyone in Berkeley including teachers from her school and man after man who verbally abuses her. Her feeling of self-worth is tied to whatever man she is dating... she careens into love within a week of meeting someone. I know times were different then, but any parent should be able to tell that their daughter sleeping with drug addicts and teachers 20 years their senior isn't all right in the world. Additionally, the girl was taking 10-12 valium and 10-12 darvon a day. Even if they didn't know the ill effects of these drugs yet, they HAD to know that this wasn't right. I find it hard to believe that Tammy showed no outward signs of problems...just her mental state with regard to men should have been a clue. I'm sorry to say, but I think that Melanie and Bob were poor parents who ran a too permissive house and their unstable daughter didn't get the discipline and structure she so desperately needed. They never pushed her to do anything (they didn't want her to fail...what's that telling her?)and never really laid down rules (Yes, you may not be able to stop your daughter from sleeping with the school administrator, but you don't have to condone it by letting her sleep over all the time!).
Besides the frustrating story, this book is basically poorly written. Most of it consists of reading Tammy's journal and short stories and poetry which, of course, isn't written very well(why do they choose to BOLD some of her writings and not others? Very bizarre.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Keith A. Chandler on January 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
I NEVER read biography. As a philosopher I generally keep my nose buried in metaphysical and ontological tomes. It was only through a fluke that I discovered and bought Melanie Bellah's Tammy. If I had paid more attention to the physical description of the book I might have hesitated. It is a BIG book. In paperback it is larger, heavier and contains more pages than Barrow and Tipler's The Cosmic Anthropic Principle. Yet Tammy does not contain one equation, no mention of the quantum wave function, and nothing about the past and future universe. It is simply the story of an attractive, intelligent and highly expressive teenage girl who grew up in the midst of the social turmoil of the sixties and earlier seventies but never made it past 1974 when she committed suicide at the age of eighteen. Although Melanie Bellah, Tammy's mother, wrote the book, which she subtitles "A Biography of a Young Girl," it is virtually an autobiography. Tammy's story is most compelling when it is told in the words of her own journals and letters which are themselves voluminous. In my own book, Beyond Civilization, ( I identified the sixties as a critical period not only for Western Civilization but for the very structure of what we called civilization itself, but Melanie Bellah has shown how the instability and fragmentation of that decade wreaked its destructive influence on one fragile human life as well as disrupting the delicate connections between the other members of her family. Twenty-five years after Tammy's death the questions still remain: Why? Why suicide? What went wrong? With the advantage of the almost inevitably wrong hindsight, the answers may appear obvious. But they are not.Read more ›
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