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Even Tough Girls Wear Tutus: Inside the World of a Woman Born in Prison Paperback – December 14, 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Out of the depths of her pain and eventual acceptance, Deborah created not only this ruggedly honest book (which entranced me--I read it in one gulp), but also some creative and important projects...." --PsychCentral, Even Tough Girls Wear Tutus: Deborah Jiang Stein's Story

"...mesmerized by this book. It's beautiful and harrowing and brave...the agility and strength of the human spirit, but not in a precious way. It's evocative, fierce and tender.
The strength of Jiang Stein's writing is her ability to put me right there in her scenes. I held my breath..."
--Judy Clement Wall, Used Furniture Review

About the Author

Deborah Jiang Stein is founder of the nonprofit, The unPrison Project (www.theunprisonproject.org) serving women and girls in prisons.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Cell 7 Media (December 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1887345507
  • ISBN-13: 978-1887345507
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,928,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kate Maloy on January 25, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished this book two nights ago, staying up much too late to do so, and I am still thinking about it. The author, born in prison, addicted to heroin, and taken from her birth mother at a year old, never knew who she was, growing up. Her adoptive parents were Jewish, scholarly, and unprepared for the wild, rebellious, risk-taking, brown-skinned, Asian-eyed stranger in their orderly life and home. Something was always missing from Deborah's very core, and that something was the truth of her nature and her soul. She was weaned off of heroin before she could say the word, but she got hooked again, on other drugs, at a very young age. Throughout her teens and twenties she got into trouble, she ran away, she acted out, she played fast and loose with her own welfare and her deepest yearnings, but she never let herself out of the prison of her own making--emotional lockdown, a refusal to be loved. And then she turned it around with astonishing courage. I have a new hero in Deborah Jiang Stein, for the risks she takes now are about telling the whole truth all the time--to herself, about herself, and in order to free herself and find the joy, love, and generosity in the powerful energy that has more than once put her very life at risk. She uses this energy for immense good and in doing so she has escaped all her prisons.
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With the same universal feminine curiosity that led Eve to take her fateful bite of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, so a young Deborah Jiang Stein broke a family taboo and opened a drawer to her own history and destiny. A tale of waywardness and lostness, of courage, flair, and redemption, this book prances right into our hearts and the lives of women and men yearning to break free of prisons both literal and symbolic. Ms. Jiang Stein's story is tragic and funny, distressing and inspiring, written with such spare and elegant craft that it takes the breath away in artistry alone. Five stars and then some!
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For the last 3 1/2 hours, I feel like I've been sitting at my dining room table with a sister-friend eating fried chicken and collards (or noodles w/butter) laughing and crying as she tells me one hell of a story.

My younger self wanted to play with Little Debbie because she and I could've wreaked some serious mischievous havoc on the neighborhood.

I loved and identified with pistol-packing Deborah's swag and fearlessness - even if she's shaking on the inside - because I see so much of my rebel self in her.

And if I ever cross paths with today's tough-girl-tutu-wearing Deborah in person, I'd want to give Little Debbie a hug because out of everything you've experienced, I still sense the little girl in you simply needs and wants those hugs you missed out on.
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Format: Paperback
Deborah Jiang Stein's story could be tragic instead its empowering, it could be depressing, instead its uplifting. I finished this book in a few hours because I couldn't put it down. Brutally honest and unapologetic Deborah tells the story of finding out as a young girl that her birth mother gave birth to her while in prison and how she lived in a foster home before she came to live with her adoptive family. This information colors Deborah's life from that point forward. From her spiral into drug and alcohol addiction, drug running and petty crimes to getting sober, reconciling with her family and creating a fabulous life with two kids and a career not only as an author but a speaker and supporter of women in prison.

Deborah was adopted by a white Jewish family in the 1960's while segregation was still alive and well. She doesn't know what race she is, but she knows she isn't white. Her parents thought ignoring her differences were best as well as ignoring her past. They didn't know any better. Her parents were renegades, adopting a multi-racial child before it was acceptable, they were in academia and outsiders due to their religion. All these things could have led Deborah to remain a bitter and angry person but she has reconciled her past seen the gifts her parents have given her and uses them to inspire her children and the women she speaks with in prison. A wonderful uplifting novel of redemption, forgiveness and finding peace within yourself.
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What knocks me out about Deborah Jiang Stein is that she is not afraid to write about The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. In her stunning memoir, EVEN TOUGH GIRLS WEAR TUTUS, she takes the reader into the bowels of despair at a breakneck pace. Stein does not compromise her story. She does not sweeten a page for the sake of metaphor. She hides nothing. And this is what I love about her. How often do we read a memoir where the writer sentimentalizes? Not so with Stein. She makes me cringe when she describes how she forced drug filled balloons inside her vagina. She makes me smile when she tells us how she leaned over her adoptive Mother and whispered "I'm sorry" into her ear as her Mother lay ill in the hospital. This book will tear your heart out as you question how Stein pulled herself up to walk the straight line. It will make you glad you got to know a true-life heroine who has the guts to own all of her life...in order that she might help others.
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