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100 Years in the Life of an American Girl: True Stories 1910 - 2010

450 pages5 hours


The fascinating story of a century through the eyes of American girls under age 13 in every decade from 1910 to 2010.

In over 50 beautifully crafted narratives, women and young girls born between 1907 and 2001 describe the life and times that are new in every decade and vanishing just as fast.

The author collected most of the stories by interview and retains the girls’ voices as they tell about far more than playing with paper dolls and hearing the first radios open the door to the world. They are dancing in the streets at the end of WW I, climbing trees in a skirt and pantaloons, using the first telephone. They lose Japanese American friends to internment camps and undergo nightly blackouts during WW II. One girl escapes Saigon as a 5-year-old at the end of the Vietnam War to grow up in Dad’s rural Georgia.

As the 20th century goes on, American Bandstand gives way to MTV and family life includes single moms and weekend dads, stepfamilies and open adoption. Sex education classes amuse, stress is treated with medication, and the entertainments of the digital age compete with TV. By 2010 girls have role models in leadership and contribute to culture like never before. In 1931 a girl’s big achievement was winning at jacks; in 2009 it was coordinating a National Day of Silence at school.

Each chapter includes fun pop culture highlights — did you know peppermint Life Savers were inspired by the life saving devices used in the Titanic disaster of 1912? — and a short history of the decade’s events in politics, education, medicine, technology and entertainment.

These young girls of different races and classes show American culture at its truest as they describe life-altering inventions and shifting social codes across ten decades. They reveal what’s universal and what’s unique about social challenges and racial prejudices, desires and disappointments, hopes and losses. It’s history in motion powered by the personal.

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