Girls of Tender Age



The author reveals the genesis of her memoir.




“This is a riveting book, memory lane as a crime scene that needs to be relived to be understood. In this family saga of ethnic New England (a seldom-visited subject, but one dear to my heart), Smith has put all her energy as a writer of crime fiction to solve a mystery from her own past.”
–Paul Theroux, The Mosquito Coast and Sir Vidia’s Shadow

“Like David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, Girls of Tender Age peers into the dark spaces between the street lights in a quiet residential neighborhood. Something sinister lurks just off the page, and it creeps closer and closer until the memoir’s two story lines twist together... Smith’s deadpan delivery and comedic timing give the narrative spark.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Riveting, heartbreaking, hilarious, I loved this book for its compassion, its vividness, and its flashes of justifiable anger. A life-affirming read.”
–Wally Lamb, She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True

“This beautiful memoir succeeds not only in recovering the author’s past, but also uncovering and ordering the few sordid facts of a crime and creating narrative where one was not allowed to exist… Riveting and suspenseful.”
The Boston Globe

“Spellbinding… Tirone Smith tells the truth... but she also skillfully tells its slant, looking back at a remove of some 50 years in longing, avowed anger, and tough-girl humor.”
–Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air

“Mary-Ann Tirone Smith is an adept literary juggler. She creates a tour de force in Girls of Tender Age by combining a coming-of-age story with a heinous crime that shapes her life. In addition, we get a visceral sense of the Connecticut she grew up in and a fascinating look at her family’s struggle with an autistic sibling. I could not put this book down.”
–Jane Stern Road Food and Ambulance Girl

“This is such a multi-dimensional and triumphant book that it’s hard to do it justice. It is an exacting and deadly accurate depiction of less cynical, less compassionate times; it is absorbing and convincing, and it must have taken great courage to write.”
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

“Smith intertwines delightful stories from childhood with a grim chronicle of a sexual predator haunting her for decades… Creates almost unbearable tension.”
Kirkus Reviews

“A riveting memoir that encompasses the murder of a schoolmate by a pedophile and life with a brother who suffered from autism.”
People Magazine Page-Turner of the Week

“Publishers churn out true-crime books by the hundreds, but few are anywhere near as good as Girls of Tender Age, which also happens to be one of the sharpest and most affecting family memoir to come along in years.”
The Berkshire Eagle

“Nostalgia collides with horror in Girls of Tender Age, and the effect is at once warm and unsettling. Mary-Ann Tirone Smith’s voice is wry and elegiac, and her memoir is utterly absorbing.”
–Stewart O’Nan, City of Secrets and Faithful (with Stephen King)

“Smith handles this mix of crime and memoir with the same smooth blend of journalistic precision and compelling story-telling that Joan Didion demonstrated in The Year of Magical Thinking.”
The San Francisco Chronicle