Quick Review This is a great summer read about female relationships changing through the years.
Aria Beth Sloss tried to tackle the incredibly complex topic of female friendship in her book Autobiography of Us. Set in the 1960’s in Pasadena, two friends, Rebecca and Alex, live on the same street becoming close friends as children. The story is told through Rebecca’s perspective. She starts telling the story to someone as a reflection upon her past. It is evident that her best friend, Alex, has passed away, which is the catalyst for the story. She begins her narration when Alex moves into the neighborhood. There is immediate tension building between the two. Rebecca deals with an inferiority complex the entire book. Alex was the daughter of extravagantly rich parents, while Rebecca’s family struggle to maintain their wealthy facade. Alex was pretty, and Rebecca was less so. Alex had an air for the dramatic and always pulled everyone’s attention. Coming of age in the sixties, Rebecca was pressured by her family to fulfill all the traditional roles; however, she fought an internal battle contradicting her family and the times she lived in.
Sloss draws attention to the times by often using Rebecca to reference how different the times were then for girls. Usually making the statement about how young she was and naive. Though making some feminist statements throughout, this self-infantilization undermined the attempted message of female empowerment.
Sloss likes to bring characters into scenes without naming them. Integrating them into the action and conversation for paragraphs if not a page or two creates a bit of confusion instead of mystery. I had to look back a few times just to make sure I hadn’t accidentally missed it.
Autobiography of Us is a story about female friendship, familial relationships, societal pressures, and marriage. Sloss adds a few more twists than the usual story, but, in general, she sticks to a generic storyline.
“There are years she meant more to me rush anyone, years our lives besides into each other’s so neatly I’m not sure, to be honest, they ever came undone.”
“How little we know the ones we love. How little we know of anyone, in the end.”
“I believe injustice eventually gives way to justice,” he said ““Slowly, perhaps. With great effort, and too often through the unfortunate medium of violence.””
Title: Autobiography of Us
Author: Aria Beth Sloss