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on January 22, 2011
Do Tampons Take Your Virginity?A Catholic Girl's Memoir by Marie Simas is a bittersweet account of her childhood and teenage years by the author. When I first started reading this book, I thought that it was going to be a light-hearted account about growing up in a Portuguese Catholic family. I thought that it might be harsh on the Catholic Church. But it isn't really so much about the Church, but rather about the fears and hypocrisies about some people living under Church doctrine, and old world Portuguese values.

***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS***

Simas grew up in a brutally violent home. Her father was abusive. The father continually rapes the mother -- even while she's dying of cancer. Because Marie simply doesn't accept her father's brutality towards herself or her mother, he beats her with a belt on a regular basis.

What I like about Marie is that while she couldn't escape the beatings, she refused to meekly accept it. She was always rebellious. She became so desperate for love, however, that despite both parents warning her about sex, when she is fifteen she loses her virginity to the first boy who pays any attention to her. She misinterprets his physical affection as real love and believes that he will take her away from her "miserable family." When he goes away and a few days later she realizes that she probably won't hear from him again. Simas touchingly recalls:

"That night, I fell asleep as soon as it got dark outside. The sun set on my adolescence. Though I had experienced severe beatings, threats, and almost constant fear, nothing could compare to the pain I felt from lost love."

The father's abuse and her first lover's rejection affected Marie's future relationships with men profoundly. She becomes a "user" of men -- something that she is not proud of today. She wanted to hurt men as they had hurt her -- even nice men who actually cared for her. While Marie harshly judges those around her, she is equally hard on herself. She is just being honest.

Things I don't like? Well, I don't really like the title -- it might make some people curious but might turn some potential readers off. The book is divided into short chapters that make the narrative seem a bit choppy instead of flowing into each other as a cohesive whole.

I may not agree with everything the author says, but I definitely understand where she is coming from. I have a feeling that this book was a catharsis for the author; a way of exorcising her demons -- her anger and despair. She also has a mordant sense of humor that probably saved her life. You may find yourself crying one minute and laughing the next.

This book is brutally honest. Be prepared. There is marital rape, brutal child abuse, and strong sexuality.

This book was sent to me for review.
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on June 21, 2011
I can't say I enjoyed this book, because so much of it was sad and awful. I couldn't, however, put it down. I kept reading and hoping that everything would turn out well, that Marie's father would plummet from earth to a hideous, fiery death that involved a lot of pain and humiliation. On some levels I can relate to her story, on others I am shocked and horrified that a girl who could possibly have been my neighbor growing up in California's Central Valley spent her childhood and teen years in such hell.
I got my wish for a happy ending and wanted to stand and applaud Marie for her courage and determination. Her writing is simple but powerful. I immediately downloaded Douche-bag Roulette because I feel that this author is unique and able to get to the heart of the matter without a lot of pretty words.
I would definitely recommend reading this book.
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on July 5, 2011
Does the book have a lot of foul-mouthed stuff? Yes, but I found it was part of the author's way of coping with the craziness. First off, I'm not catholic, but I sympathize with the many problems that the author brings up about her youth. Many of the subjects are things that we as women have all gone through. I enjoyed her description of the trips to Portugal and her relationships with her female relatives. Reading about her abusive father was very difficult for me. That stuff is way out of my comfort zone, but I felt for her just the same. At the end of the day, Simas tried to make very difficult situations and show that they do have some humor. Some of that humor works and some of it is just incredibly sad.
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on September 24, 2011
I loved the eye catching title. My first impression was that it was going to be a fun, fast read - turned out to be one of the saddest books I have read. The book is not realistic for the Catholic faith, I almost take offense to the generalization. The ending however, was a personal triumph over tradedy...
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on May 12, 2014
I think this book could have benefited from some serious editing. The author certainly has a story to tell, but you get the distinct impression that she is still very much caught up in the pain of what she endured through her childhood. There is a lot of projection, and strangely, anger at people who "didn't help" her. There's a focus on weight, and the implication that those who are overweight suffer from a flawed character. The book is rife with contradictions, particularly where she writes that her twin relatives helped her, but then follows up with the "what did they do for me" sentiment that is pervasive throughout.

It reads like a very narcissistic adolescent wrote it. I don't fault the author for her narcissism, as it is a pretty common coping mechanism for those who endured violence and emotional abuse in their early life. But a good editor would have helped her reframe the story into one that was less of a pity party and more of an amusing triumph over adversity, to match the marketing of the book.

The fact that she thinks she triumphed over her father by ignoring him many years later in the church tells you she is just beginning her healing journey. Best of luck to her. It will be a rocky road ahead.
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on September 2, 2013
For some reason, I expected a funny memoir - maybe because of the title? Unfortunately, that's not what I ended up reading. The author is clearly very bitter toward her father, and when that starts to peek out as she tells her story, the rest of her story begins to get gruff and show obvious anger and hatred toward some of the other people in her life. I get it - I grew up Catholic, too. But I could never imagine putting it into a book like this, and speaking that way about people. And no matter how bad her father was, clearly she didn't carry any of her Catholic life over into her non-Catholic life, otherwise she'd have learned how important forgiveness is.
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on February 21, 2014
If I'd read the book reviews on this before downloading it, I probably wouldn't have gotten it. I anticipated a funny, girl-to-girl 'can you believe our Moms' type of book.

The author had a brutal father in an old country family with extremely patriarchal values. I don't think this mindset is limited to Catholics, because I've seen it in other conservative Protestant religions. My own Southern Baptist upbringing set strict boundaries on dress, language, and behavior. Fortunately, cursing and beating and pathological sexual behavior were not part of my family's culture.

This book will leave a mark on your soul. Read it, and celebrate the survivors in your life.
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on September 29, 2011
Like some of the other reviews state, this is far from being a humorous book and should be considered more satire. However, coming from a catholic background I could relate to some of the stories and found myself reading it in one sitting, I just couldn't put it down.
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on November 1, 2011
Even thought Marie Simas faced hardships in childhood she tells the story with a hint of irony and humor. Physical and verbal abuse were common in her home, but she was able to overcome these obstacles and become a successful writer and a mother. The illness and death of her mother also put a strain on her home life. Some of the stories in this are truly shocking. It is known that her father rapes her mother, however, her father continues to do this even when her mother is bed ridden and dying of cancer.

The structure and code of ethics in her extended is also fascinating. Her uncle attempts to molest her at one point, and her father-who usually speaks illy of perverts- does nothing to defend her or punish the uncle. Other members of her extended family know she receives vicious beatings, but accept this as a social norm.

I found most funny the way her mother and grandmother had menstruation explained to them-a way that only Marie Simas can do justice.

Although there are some dark issues in the book-it is not too sad and depressing and overall a fun read!
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on July 4, 2013
Beautifully done telling of a coming-of-age growth of a young girl from a dysfunctional family that immigrated form Portugal. Describes vignettes from her life span, showing the naïve child becoming the mature adult. Painful when she experiences abuse, heroic when she triumphs as her own person. The short chapters are complete in themselves, so an easy book to take up for a short while and put down. I admire her honesty and ultimate heroic insight!!!
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