icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Girls of Tender Age



"Like David Lynch's 'Blue Velvet,' Girls of Tender Age peers into the dark spaces between the streetlights 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


"A riveting memoir that encompasses the murder of a schoolmate by a pedophile and life with a brother who suffered from autism." –People


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


"With intelligence, disarming humor, and deep affection for the families and neighborhoods of the 1950s, Girls of Tender Age speaks eloquently on behalf of children and confronts the crippling silences that damage us in any era."—The Washington Post


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


"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


"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), Ms. Tirone Smith has put all her energy as a writer of crime fiction to solve a mystery from her own past." –Paul Theroux


"In Mary-Ann Tirone Smith's Girls of Tender Age, a masterful fiction writer shares her own story. And what a poignant memoir it is; one little girl dies, another comes of age and gives voice to herself and her murdered friend. Partly a celebration of family in all its quirky, loveable, and maddening complexity, and partly an examination of Eisenhower-era justice, this story strikes a universal chord as it investigates a highly specific and singular childhood. Riveting, heartbreaking, hilarious, untainted by sappy sentimentality: I loved this book for its compassion, vividness, and its flashes of justifiable anger. Girls of Tender Age is a life-affirming read."—Wally Lamb