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Virgin Territory: Stories from the Road to Womanhood Paperback – February 24, 2004

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A longtime interest in the mysteries of womanhood led journalist Alter to collect "first time you" anecdotes from women of all ages. Here, in 11 chapters (e.g., "First Frog: Kissing, Warts and All"; "First Flash: Candy from a Stranger-Porn, Dirty Books, and Obscene Phone Calls"), she presents bite-size chronicles of the transition out of girlhood innocence. As Alter writes, "The more intimate the admission, the more resonant my reaction." True, and potency is doubled when the story from the past is tied into the subject's current life: a subscription to the New Yorker delighted its recipient at age 16and still does at age 78; a woman enthralled by pornography as a preteen is now a publicist in the adult entertainment industry; five years on, another woman still fondly values her brief, no-strings affair with her college ethics professor. Alter also chronicles-intentionally or not-an informal history of women's social evolution: she reveals the mindsets of mothers in "the generation that never talks about anything," fervent aspirations toward feminine vanity, rejections of being a "cute little girl" seeking matrimony. There's something here for every woman reader to identify with and be moved by, although after the relative pleasantries of the first 10 chapters, the final one, "First Farewell," may perturb readers with its theme of death. But this is the chapter that brings the collection full circle. As the final story explains, part of losing innocence is the discovery that "everyone has holes in their heart, and you still live."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Journalist Alter doesn't limit her collection of women's true stories to the "baby steps to womanhood." Instead, this compendium of women's voices includes experiences from all stages of life; in addition to stories of first bras, first periods, and first kisses are tales of first divorce, first witnessed death, and a first sense of shattering the professional glass ceiling. Loosely organized into categories, the entries, representing girls and women in a wide range of professions and ages, are refreshingly honest, revealing the speakers' dysfunctional families, private disappointments, secret shames, and even terrifying abuse. And there are the hilarious, lighter reminiscences as well: the mechanics of making out with braces, for example. With so many topics covered by such brief entries, Alter's collection lacks some cohesion. But the stories are plainly told, raw, and affecting, and readers will be deeply moved by these authentic female voices that speak about experiences that touch us all. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; 1 edition (February 24, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400047811
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400047819
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,723,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I always wondered what is was like to grow up as a girl, and if girls went through the same angst and worry that boys and young men did. The answer was in this book, and it is "No." It's far worse. I wish I had had this book to read when I was 15.
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By A Customer on March 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
Great stories - many pee in your pants funny. Even if you're not into the whole WOmyn thing, you'll enjoy the tales. Sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, Virgin Territory has it all (plus mystery, intrigue, death and cowboy boots.)
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Format: Paperback
Virgin Territory was a real delight for me. Alter has put together a very interesting collection of short recollections of some of a young woman's best and worst milestones. The best part are Alter's own comments and memories that run through the book. You do not have to be a woman to enjoy this book.
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