*Sigh. Where to begin? Sometimes I read a book and I just shake my head over it. This is one of those.
Kathy Dobie comes from a traditional/religious Catholic family. Young Kathy was overly concerned with popularity and wanting people to like her. Perhaps this overeagerness to please combined with a certain boy craziness leads her to decide to lose her virginity at 14. It was the 70s and for suburban America at the time that was a pretty radical decision. She then begins bizarre and unfulfilling “relationships” with boys just older than her that use her for one thing and one thing only. Strangely enough, her family, who she describes as close knit originally, seems largely unaware of what is going on with her life. One evening she goes on the usual car ride with a boy she is sleeping with (he makes sure she knows that she is NOT his girlfriend as he already has one of those) and a group of his friends. It is in this car that Kathy is pressured to do something that affects her for the rest of her life. It is a pretty gruesome story, nauseating at times. While Dobie is neither a brilliant nor poor writer, the subject matter is just… well, I don’t understand her purpose in sharing this trauma with us. Was it some therapy exercise? Is she trying to say something about expectations? Is it a cautionary tale? I don’t think Dobie herself could answer that question.
As a mother of tiny daughters (one 2 and the other 2 months) I have a kind of horror that my girls might be as desperate to please as Dobie. I’d like to think that my example of being opinionated, not conforming, and seeing myself as an individual with valuable thoughts and feelings will show them a strong woman. That being said, Dobie’s mother seems to be no slouch, though Dobie does not seem to respect her. We live in a day and age where stories of girls leaving with boys with disastrous consequences are all over the news. The question really becomes how do we teach men and women to be kinder to one another and to respect one another? How do we raise children to repulse horror, not to be drawn into it? If Dobie’s book did anything, I suppose it made me think of how I could be a more vigilant parent. It wasn’t uplifting. Not exactly your book club selection. It seemed more like something Dobie needed to get out there for herself, and not for a general audience.