Friday, February 5, 2016

Looking Back: A Chronicle of Growing Up Old in the Sixties; Joyce Maynard

Joyce Maynard - Doubleday - 1973

When a fellow blogger told me about this memoir by a favorite author, I couldn't wait to read it, as I also grew up "old" in the sixties. 

I expected the memoir to be somewhat shallow or maybe a bit frivolous given the fact that the author was a nineteen-year-old college student when she wrote this book.   I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn't the case at all.  Her writing reflects personal experiences and observations that were written with depth and vision.  Maynard had me reflecting on my own life back then, a tumultuous time -- the Cuban missile crisis, President Kennedy's assassination, women's lib, the sexual revolution, birth control pills became available, marijuana and other drugs were being tried by some. It was also the end of the senseless Vietnam War and the age of Woodstock.  

Maynard also talks about the younger days growing up, when going back to school meant shopping for new lunch boxes, new barrettes, admiring pretty shoes but, having our mothers purchase the practical ones instead, after getting our feet measured in the metal foot measuring gadget at the store. When 4th grade meant boys still had "cooties" and  dolls were still tempting to girls. We recall that someone in our class was designated the "genius" or another classmate the "class jester", and by 5th grade all that changed, when the school nurse  showed the girls the "Now You're a Woman film", and we became obsessed with sex talk at recess and first bras.

The sixties were a generation where many of us didn't make plans, but rather, "let life happen", believing that everything would work out in the end.  It was a generation where many children of non college-educated parents were raised to believe that going to college wasn't for them. Many got married, took blue-collar or secretarial jobs or became housewives.

We grew up with the "first" televisions, watching and dancing to American Bandstand on television on Saturdays, Leave it to Beaver, I Love Lucy, The Flying Nun, Father Know's Best and Ozzie & Harriet. The Beatles exploded our music scene, cars were for parking as much as they were for driving, we went to drive-in movies, and pantyhose was a new invention.  And, gasp --- we weren't a generation of readers either-- we had the first televisions remember and that was new and exciting. We bought books, but many stayed on the shelves unread (much like they do today).

The author does a beautiful job capturing the hopes and fears of my generation.  I highly recommend this delightful book.

5/5 stars
(library)

27 comments:

  1. What? Why haven't I heard of this book? I NEED it!

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  2. I got my through the library system but, I know the kindle version is available for purchase.

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  3. I love reading about your experience with this book. I remember so many of these things - though I was a reader then. And I don't remember much about the early '60's when I was not in school yet. I'm going to look for this one too. Those foot measuring things - weren't they so important at the time? LOL

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    1. Kay, glad to hear you have some fond memories of the 60s as well.

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  4. Sounds like a memoir I'd love, Diane. Thanks for telling us about it.

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  5. Interesting, my Dad grew up during that time too and he says he used to remember it!

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  6. You wrote a great review of this book Diane. It is one I will definitely read.

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    1. Denise I'd be curious to hear if growing up in the sixties in England felt similar?

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  7. This sounds like a very good memoir!

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  8. I really want to read Joyce Maynard.

    This sounds like a fantastic memoir.


    Though I knew that the times were very different, for many of us who grew up in the 80s, not making plans and just waiting for things to happen was also common :)

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    1. Brian Joseph, I guess the "waiting for life to happen" is a common attitude over the generations.

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  9. I am a child of the sixties and early seventies. This sounds like a great read. Thanks for the introduction.

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  10. You likely know that she had a problematic year long relationship with JD Salinger when she was 18. Decades later she wrote a memoir about that too

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    1. Valorie, Yes I' aware of that and have requested the 2nd memoir from the library which may enlighten me even more.

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  11. Somehow I hadn't heard of this book, but it definitely speaks to me. I was always a reader, though. I was browsing the adult books when I was still in Jr High. I remember my mom telling the librarians which authors were ok for me to be reading. I ended up with a lot of scifi and Perry Mason novels when what I wanted was to get my hands on a copy of The Godfather!

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    1. I was a reader as a kid - participating in library summer reading programs etc and Nancy Drews etc, but I like television as well.

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  12. Ahhh... I'm so glad you liked the book. I have the feeling perhaps I am the "fellow blogger" who recommended it. Wasn't it just a gem of a thing?

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    1. I wasn't sure if it was you or Judith from NY. Thank you so much - very enjoyable.

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  13. I put this on my wish list. I like memoirs and nostalgia. It seems like this is perfect!

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  14. Interesting. I guess I didn't realize she wrote a memoir at 19. Nice review!

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  15. I can't imagine having enough to write about your own life by the age of 19 to write a book, although it was an incredible time.

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