Other Sellers on Amazon
The Boys of My Youth Paperback – January 29, 1999
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
"Extraordinary...Beard is writing not with the romanticism of a girl looking up at the stars, but with the brilliant cold light of the stars looking down on us."―Ted Anton, Chicago Tribune
"Beard remembers (or imagines) her childhood self with an uncanny lucidity that startles."―Laura Miller, New York Times Book Review
About the Author
- Publisher : Back Bay Books; First Edition first Printing (January 29, 1999)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 224 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0316085251
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316085250
- Reading age : 13 years
- Item Weight : 8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.6 x 1.15 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #132,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
That being said, I felt like I understood women a little better by the end of this. So many stories about growing up female from girl to woman, so intimate and sweet and heartbreaking.
If you only read one essay in your life, you must read "The Fourth State of Matter," a chapter in this book. It's astoundingly good. Terrifying and brilliant.
This book was recommended to me by professors in my MFA program in writing and I've given it as a gift more than once.
Beard knows her stuff. Her essays are extremely poetic. A scene at her grandfather's funeral includes this observation, "I'm too big to sit on a lap, my legs are stiff, and now my heart has a grandpa in it." Beard uses lyrical structure fluidly in many of these essays. "Cousins" runs two parallel narratives. One of Beard and her cousin, the other of their mothers, who are sisters. The result is a reinforced understanding of the closeness between the women. She is a sensory writer, and employs unusual images that are vivid and unique. In a scene in "Cousins" Beard describes herself in utero as "the size of a cocktail shrimp," in another essay, the rivers are the color of bourbon.
If you are looking for a lurid, sensationalized, book that tells all the dark dirty secrets of a writer as s/he overcomes a particular obstacle, I would look elsewhere. This book does not follow the traditional arc of a coming of age tale. It is not one book length narrative, but 12 separate essays. They are not all as captivating in intensity as "The Fourth State of Matter." But thank goodness life is not always that painful. I admire the alchemy though, of taking a life and rendering its moments and phases as artfully as she has done in this book.
But of course Beard remembers, and tells, in this 1998 non-linear collection of linked personal essays. They're coming-of-age essays, where growing up is as likely to occur at thirty as at thirteen or three. Each age is rendered perfectly, as are the characters and the 1970s-80s period details of small-town Midwest.
Among the boys of Beard's youth are Hal, that beloved d-o-l-l her mother's oldest sister bullies her mother into throwing away; teenage boys who mostly ignore her at backwoods parties; her father who drinks and disappears for weeks at a time; Eric: boyfriend, husband...; and a school-shooter where Beard works in the University of Iowa physics department. There are girls, too -- aunts and cousins; her older, nemesis sister; her mother who smokes on every page; a lifelong best friend she consults while writing these essays.
I love these people and their settings; I've read Beard's novel IN ZANESVILLE, and the first half feels exactly like these essays. I love her writing and look so forward to more.
With an exquisite eye for detail and lots of humor, Jo Ann Beard inspires memories of laughter and friendship and the heartache of youth that is never matched in later life. Upon completion of this book, you will find yourself thanking Jo Ann Beard for taking you back to that magical place in time. "The Boys of My Youth" is worth reading and re-reading and sharing with your best friends.