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A haunting literary debut about the cost of keeping quiet. Amy Jo Burns grew up in Mercury, Pennsylvania, an industrial town humbled by the steel collapse of the 1980s. Instead of the construction booms and twelve-hour shifts her parents’ generation had known, the Mercury Amy Jo knew was marred by empty houses, old strip mines, and vacant lots. It wasn’t quite a ghost town— A haunting literary debut about the cost of keeping quiet. Amy Jo Burns grew up in Mercury, Pennsylvania, an industrial town humbled by the steel collapse of the 1980s. Instead of the construction booms and twelve-hour shifts her parents’ generation had known, the Mercury Amy Jo knew was marred by empty houses, old strip mines, and vacant lots. It wasn’t quite a ghost town—only because many people had no choice but to stay. The year Burns turned ten, this sleepy town suddenly woke up. Howard Lotte, its beloved piano teacher, was accused of sexually assaulting his female students. Among the countless girls questioned, only seven came forward. For telling the truth, the town ostracized these girls and accused them of trying to smear a good man’s reputation. As for the remaining girls—well, they were smarter. They lied. Burns was one of them. But such a lie has its own consequences. Against a backdrop of fire and steel, shame and redemption, Burns tells of the boys she ran from and toward, the friends she abandoned, and the endless performances she gave to please a town that never trusted girls in the first place. This is the story of growing up in a town that both worshipped and sacrificed its youth—a town that believed being a good girl meant being a quiet one—and the long road Burns took toward forgiving her ten-year-old self. Cinderland is an elegy to that young girl’s innocence, as well as a praise song to the curative powers of breaking a long silence.


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A haunting literary debut about the cost of keeping quiet. Amy Jo Burns grew up in Mercury, Pennsylvania, an industrial town humbled by the steel collapse of the 1980s. Instead of the construction booms and twelve-hour shifts her parents’ generation had known, the Mercury Amy Jo knew was marred by empty houses, old strip mines, and vacant lots. It wasn’t quite a ghost town— A haunting literary debut about the cost of keeping quiet. Amy Jo Burns grew up in Mercury, Pennsylvania, an industrial town humbled by the steel collapse of the 1980s. Instead of the construction booms and twelve-hour shifts her parents’ generation had known, the Mercury Amy Jo knew was marred by empty houses, old strip mines, and vacant lots. It wasn’t quite a ghost town—only because many people had no choice but to stay. The year Burns turned ten, this sleepy town suddenly woke up. Howard Lotte, its beloved piano teacher, was accused of sexually assaulting his female students. Among the countless girls questioned, only seven came forward. For telling the truth, the town ostracized these girls and accused them of trying to smear a good man’s reputation. As for the remaining girls—well, they were smarter. They lied. Burns was one of them. But such a lie has its own consequences. Against a backdrop of fire and steel, shame and redemption, Burns tells of the boys she ran from and toward, the friends she abandoned, and the endless performances she gave to please a town that never trusted girls in the first place. This is the story of growing up in a town that both worshipped and sacrificed its youth—a town that believed being a good girl meant being a quiet one—and the long road Burns took toward forgiving her ten-year-old self. Cinderland is an elegy to that young girl’s innocence, as well as a praise song to the curative powers of breaking a long silence.

30 review for Cinderland: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    The thing about memoirs is that the author is the hero and the story is how they remember it. Though names have been changed, I have little doubt that I too graduated in Mercury's class of 1999. Mercury from the eyes of one of its most introverted is bound to be different from one of its stars. I applaud Amy Jo for having her book published. I remember her stating her future goals aloud in one of our classes, stating that one day she wanted to write human interest stories. I, like most everyone The thing about memoirs is that the author is the hero and the story is how they remember it. Though names have been changed, I have little doubt that I too graduated in Mercury's class of 1999. Mercury from the eyes of one of its most introverted is bound to be different from one of its stars. I applaud Amy Jo for having her book published. I remember her stating her future goals aloud in one of our classes, stating that one day she wanted to write human interest stories. I, like most everyone else from Mercury, was in the background of this story. We did not take piano. We went to the Catholic, Methodist or even the other Presbyterian church. We weren't leads. We could never dream to be and most of us would become okay with that. I saw myself playing Centerfold on the clarinet with the pep band during basketball halftimes. I heard my clarinet solos in Guys and Dolls while being hidden down with the pit band. I was on that band bus. I twirled a baton in the tunnel on the football field as the homecoming court walked past. I sat in class and listened to her obsess over her transcript. (I laughed aloud at that part of the story.) Somehow a transcript that was scotch taped together and then photocopied got me into a good college in Baltimore. As for the piano teacher incident, I took my lessons from my aunt. I remember hearing a little about it on the playground. A girl wouldn't tell me aloud what happened because it bothered her too much to think about. I did not know the man, but felt safer because he had been fired and would never be my sixth grade teacher. The thing that bothers me about this story is her escape and how other reviewers praise her for it. It makes it sound as if the town was not worthy of her or had wronged her deeply. I wish she had not felt that she had to live up to the expectation of Mercury, really those were probably only the expectations she had placed on herself anyway. She is one of many who has left. Even how she left does not set her apart. Amy complains of the poor college counseling received by those who wanted to go farther than Slippery Rock; I do not argue this point. I find myself wondering why we who left and are now successful rarely come back to try to help the next generation not only to expand their boundaries, but also and more importantly to be happy and succeed.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Calvin

    Well that was a couple hours of my life I'm never going to get back. Why didn't an editor tell her "um Amy, when you pass the 50th time telling people how different mercury is or described the 10th day like no ever, well, that isnt a good thing". What's annoying is the concept of the book is solid, even original, but so badly written.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Patty

    Once again, thank you to Edelweiss for allowing me to read this e-book. I may not have found it and that would have been a loss. I am grateful for all the times that publishers are willing to share their books with librarians and readers on sites like this one. I turned sixty this year. In the last few years I have noticed that many of the protagonists of the books I read are younger than I am. That has been true for decades, but it seems more evident lately. Probably because there are so many au Once again, thank you to Edelweiss for allowing me to read this e-book. I may not have found it and that would have been a loss. I am grateful for all the times that publishers are willing to share their books with librarians and readers on sites like this one. I turned sixty this year. In the last few years I have noticed that many of the protagonists of the books I read are younger than I am. That has been true for decades, but it seems more evident lately. Probably because there are so many authors who are younger than I am. I am getting old. Memoirs are one of the types of books for which it seems especially true. About half of the memoirs I have read this year were written by people younger than me. As a young reader, I don’t think I would have expected to learn anything from writers who were my age. So wrong, so untrue, but that is what I remember. I am not knocking the writers. All of those books have taught me something, shown me worlds that I would never experience for myself. I am grateful for their writings. Like the other authors, I am indebted to Burns. She tells a tale that does not show her or her community in the best light. I can't imagine being willing to revisit any trauma from my adolescence. Burns has remarkable insight into herself and the girls who had to deal with abuse from a trusted adult. She is willing to think about both her faults as well as others. I read this book, hoping with every page that life would work out for Burns. It appears that it has. She has published this book and written other things that have been published. I hope that her willingness to share her story will help others. I recommend this book to all readers of memoirs – you will be glad you met Amy Jo Burns.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Arredondo

    First off want to give a big thanks to the goodreads powers-that-be for my win of Cinderland: A Memoir. After going through many other reviews on this book, I was eagerly anticipating getting my hands on my very own copy. This is a memoir...so we are getting the life of a child in a small town. Actually we are getting the life of a child in the failed industrial small town of Mercury, Pennsylvania in the 90's that is rocked and mauled by a perverse and personal experience. I can tell you, right f First off want to give a big thanks to the goodreads powers-that-be for my win of Cinderland: A Memoir. After going through many other reviews on this book, I was eagerly anticipating getting my hands on my very own copy. This is a memoir...so we are getting the life of a child in a small town. Actually we are getting the life of a child in the failed industrial small town of Mercury, Pennsylvania in the 90's that is rocked and mauled by a perverse and personal experience. I can tell you, right from the start I was intrigued...it gripped...it pulled me in and I wanted to learn more about the events that unfolded on a innocent 10 year old girl and her fellow playmates in such a small community. There is no beating around the bush...we don't get pages upon pages of backdrop until we get to the root of the matter...oh no, Amy Jo Burns takes us right there, right from the beginning. And from that beginning I am bombarded with questions...why did she call herself a liar so often??...why did she blame herself so much for what she did not do??...why did she and several other girls just like her decide to take a mutual unspoken oath to never admit to the crimes that occurred on them by a loving Pillar of the community and Piano teacher, Mr. Lotte especially when one such friend did have the audacity to do so?? She gets right to the point...she gets right to her rawest of feelings...and with that, questions are answered as we go along....things make sense. She puts "small town" life into a perspective that I could understand, that I felt myself drawn into and falling in love with even as I sit in my home in a big city. From the way people raised their children, the activities they engaged in to keep with traditions and sanity, the gossip that spreads like wildfire, Friday night sports crazes, and how quickly people can turn away from the bitter raw truth, shunning those that live by that truth. We feel for the girl that struggles with keeping her secret..and we understand why it is so important for her to do so if she is to ever escape the town she came from. Through her childhood struggles with always trying to please others and striving to be at the top of everything..comparing herself with best friends, wanting to be wanted by a boy only to lose that boy because of her guarded inhibitions..never telling more than she needs to...being ashamed and embarrassed by a town and all it embodies, through it all she realizes that the town and all those people in her life have shaped who she is and even through escape she could never truly abandon where she came from yet she can't remain in it. I was drawn in by one such quote..the intestinal fortitude it took to create those thoughts out of her experience, " I knew there would never be another place as lovely as this one, bleeding as this one, as fucking evanescent. The word "fuck" was created for a town like this-because it was beautiful and horrid and small and suffocating and contained everything precious to me. When Trent Reznor had created "Closer", I believed he could have been imagining a night just like this one when he had lived here. That's what it was to live in this town. It meant leaving this place because it was sick, and I didn't know how to save it." Amy Jo Burns is a master at being able to describe things so well, so appealingly, and so to the point. I am still in awe that she can get that much story in 205 pages. With this being her first book I am most certain that it only gets better from here and I look forward to reading many more books by such a talented author in the future. I recommend this book to anyone that doesn't have time to sit and delve into a 700+pages complicated read but still get all the substance and depth as a great one. I recommend this book to anyone that has dealt with their own childhood battles as a victim of a sex crime as I am one myself. It didn't take me into a dark place...it actually helped me to understand my own questions to my own actions following my event and to the actions of others around me and strangely enough there was comfort in that. I recommend this book because it is a great and beautiful book and deserves it's place among other great well known memoirs.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Liralen

    Boys will be boys, Burns says of Mercury's attitude, and girls will be...trouble, or untrustworthy, or teases. In any case, girls get the shorter end of the stick. And when the piano teacher was accused of assaulting students, it was in many ways the girls who came forward who were put on trial. I volunteer at a rape crisis centre, and so much of what Burns discusses aligns with the things we talk about. Lotte -- the piano teacher -- isolating, grooming his students. Trauma not being easily class Boys will be boys, Burns says of Mercury's attitude, and girls will be...trouble, or untrustworthy, or teases. In any case, girls get the shorter end of the stick. And when the piano teacher was accused of assaulting students, it was in many ways the girls who came forward who were put on trial. I volunteer at a rape crisis centre, and so much of what Burns discusses aligns with the things we talk about. Lotte -- the piano teacher -- isolating, grooming his students. Trauma not being easily classified based on how 'serious' a crime is to the court. Much of the community refusing to believe that it's true, in a 'not in our backyard' kind of mentality; they don't want to admit that sexual assault can happen anywhere, can happen here. Burns talks a lot about the silence that seems to grip the town; her parents don't address the accusations; indeed, they aren't the ones to pull Burns from her piano lessons -- instead Lotte drops her, and some other students. Children are scolded for showing an interest in the case. Those who did speak up are pressured to shut up. Are questioned. Meanwhile, much of the community rallies around Lotte. Burns uses first-person plural -- 'we' -- when talking about those girls who kept their silence, but who the rest of 'we' is is never clear. There's still a great deal of silence in this book. Whether Burns ever told her family about the secrets she was keeping, we don't know; if, as I think is the case, her sister also took piano lessons, there's no acknowledgement of what that might or might not mean. The book's description says, of the girls who kept silent, they were smarter. But within the book, that's not the message Burns sends. She may have found relief in her silence initially, as the town took its support in the wrong direction. As the book goes on, though, she's weighed down by that silence, evaluating her actions to make sure she stays on the right side of public opinion, to make sure she doesn't break the mold until she can do so permanently. There's a tremendous sense of her holding her cards close, as close as possible, not just through the actions she describes but also in writing the book. This doesn't have a lot to do with the above, but it says to me a lot about the environment Burns grew up in, so I'll end with it: My first spar for supremacy occurred during Vacation Bible School in a neighboring town when I was only eight years old. The theme that year revolved around friendship, and at the end of the week a 'best friend' was selected from every class by vote. The unintended lesson: Friendship was not laying down your life for someone else. Friendship was sizing up your competition. Our class of girls was small, no more than five, and three of the students abstained from voting. 'This is stupid,' a girl named Mary said. 'Why can't we all be best friends?' That left two votes in play--Carly's and mine. We each wrote a name, folded our papers, and handed them to our teacher. We watched as she opened them. She smiled as she shook her head. 'So sweet,' she whispered to the other teacher. 'Carly and Amy chose each other.' I realized then that naiveté had the power to claim women as well as girls. The teacher thought we'd voted for each other, but we hadn't. We'd each chosen ourselves. (153) I received a free copy of this book via a Goodreads giveaway.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Morris

    It is difficult to write a review of a memoir, due in part to it being someone's life story that was partially laid out for them by circumstances of birth, as well as the fact that the author is an inherently flawed narrator by only having their own thoughts to base it upon. In fiction, even if written in first-person, at least the author has an idea of what is going on in the other characters. "Cinderland: A Memoir" is particularly difficult due to the subject of molestation. Anyone being able It is difficult to write a review of a memoir, due in part to it being someone's life story that was partially laid out for them by circumstances of birth, as well as the fact that the author is an inherently flawed narrator by only having their own thoughts to base it upon. In fiction, even if written in first-person, at least the author has an idea of what is going on in the other characters. "Cinderland: A Memoir" is particularly difficult due to the subject of molestation. Anyone being able to write about it deserves credit for that alone. That all being said, this review took me days to finish, and I finally decided to review as I would any other story, fictional or not. It is based upon a complimentary copy provided through the Goodreads First Reads program in exchange for an honest review. The positive of "Cinderland" is that it does an excellent job of exploring the feelings that stay with abuse victims throughout their lives. It takes an emotional and developmental toll. It was also extremely honest in terms of the guilt the author felt over not having spoken out about the abuse she suffered, leaving the fallout to the other girls who did speak out. As uncomfortable as it is to read, I feel that it's very important to expose the way people blame victims, even if it is unintentional. Unfortunately, the author comes across as someone who feels like those around her are beneath her in some way, especially those who have no goals to get out of the town. While she admits to loving to the town, it is implied that those who are content there have no ambition and are trapped. It is as though she never begins to think that they may love living there and want that life. In keeping with this trend, while she writes that the need for the spotlight was to hide what she was truly feeling, it is very obvious she was smart and popular. That is not a bad thing, but again, there was a feeling of dismissal of those who were content to be in the background of things. In spite of this, the positives would have led me to give "Cinderland" four stars. That is, until the part that dealt more with Aaron. For someone who meant so much to her, his deepest scars were revealed with very little empathy and absolutely no follow-up. I could understand if it was a protection of privacy, but if that was the case, his secrets should have been left out entirely. The broken-hearted boy who was obviously being taken advantage in a relationship by someone in a position of power, physically abused, and had stood by her throughout her life with not much acknowledgement until the end of high school, was in my opinion the most sympathetic character in the book. As it was written he was used by and disposable to the author. Of all people, she should have understood his hurt, but all that was written was what he did for her. Unlike what the author wrote, leaving a town does not mean having to make a clean break from those you love. I am not afraid to admit that I searched the thank you notes hoping that "Aaron" would have been mentioned. He helped her through, but apparently did not even warrant that. The disregard for those around her are what makes me absolutely not recommend this book. It reads like a self-congratulatory slap on the back and is, quite frankly, grating.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    In many ways, Amy Jo Burns' Cinderland is a typical coming-of-age memoir that takes place in a small town in the Pennsylvanian Rust Belt. Readers will witness the young narrator journeying through her teenage years with descriptions of summer community pool excursions, high school musicals and plays, friendships that form and also dissolve, and the heartache of that first love. Yet, unlike the traditional coming-of-age memoir, which is usually told through a linear storyline that follows the tra In many ways, Amy Jo Burns' Cinderland is a typical coming-of-age memoir that takes place in a small town in the Pennsylvanian Rust Belt. Readers will witness the young narrator journeying through her teenage years with descriptions of summer community pool excursions, high school musicals and plays, friendships that form and also dissolve, and the heartache of that first love. Yet, unlike the traditional coming-of-age memoir, which is usually told through a linear storyline that follows the transistion of a child or young teenager to the adult world and features a defining moment that changes everything about the main character, Burns' work introduces this defining moment at the start of her book. Thus, she weaves the consequences of her actions through her teenage years as she grapples with what happens to those who tell the truth and what happens to those who don't. The year that Amy Jo Burns turns ten, she finds herself in a scandal that has shaken the tiny town of Mercury, Pennsylvania, located halfway between Pittsburgh and Erie. Howard Lotte, the town's highly respected piano teacher, has been accused of sexually assaulting several of his female students. Out of Lotte's many students who were questioned, seven came forward to tell the truth, while others lied. Burns was one of the students who lied. Those who told the truth were ostracized by the town; those who lied were safe from the repercussions. Or were they? Burns' memoir traces this incident through her teenage years, exploring the role of women in the rural Rust Belt (as well as perhaps America, in general). Silence is supposed to be golden. But in many ways, these young women got lost in the silence. As Burns explains, "We are the girls who lied about Mr. Lotte when others told the truth and most of Mercury hated them for it. We performed for a fickle crowd and lost ourselves in th charade." Full of vivid characters and scenes that are familiar to me (Afterall, I am also a product of Pennsylvania's rural Rust Belt), Cinderland is a lyrical response to an issue that could have been the equivlaent of a Lifetime made-for-tv movie. But it's not. Instead, Amy Jo Burns reminds us that being silent is not always as easy as it seems, and that there are always consequences to our actions.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    I grew up in "Mercury," too, although I graduated high school about a decade after Amy Jo. Right from the opening on "Whore Hill" at the public pool, I knew this book was going to look eerily familiar to my childhood-- by the way, she's right. The spots closest to the steel fence were a hot commodity. I even went to the same camp at Lake Erie for years, drove 30 minutes to the same town with the closest movie theater. Allow me to tell you that she got our town, our high school, our lifestyle dea I grew up in "Mercury," too, although I graduated high school about a decade after Amy Jo. Right from the opening on "Whore Hill" at the public pool, I knew this book was going to look eerily familiar to my childhood-- by the way, she's right. The spots closest to the steel fence were a hot commodity. I even went to the same camp at Lake Erie for years, drove 30 minutes to the same town with the closest movie theater. Allow me to tell you that she got our town, our high school, our lifestyle dead-on. Of course, I recognize that a memoir is largely subjective-- after all, it's based off of your memory and your perspective alone. But she's right when she says "on every bleacher, there was one little girl who would grow up and fall in line, just as I had. She was one girl of many, many girls." It's a pattern in Mercury. Your parents went to Mercury high school, their parents went there, at least one of your in-laws probably did, and one day your little ones may just go to Mercury, too. I first found out she wrote a memoir featuring our little town from my mother. It was passed around their small Mercury book club, because who can resist a story that you geographically relate to. Trust me, some people in Mercury aren't going to take well to this book for the light she paints it in. Sobering light. But what amazed me was that Amy Jo's writing crossed more than a decade to reach me. It was a different time, different people, but same shtick. Some people want to leave, others stay behind. I know that's not why she wrote it, but still, it's very special to read the way you felt in someone else's handwriting. Anyway, I'm truly disgusted that the people of Mercury doubted this group of young victims from the start. I didn't know Mr. Lotte nor was I alive during the trial. I'm saddened by the fact that the knee-jerk reaction of many in Mercury was to reject what they were saying. My favorite line: "Though I'd lived in Mercury all my life, I still found moments where I clasped the tragic beauty of this place around my neck like an heirloom necklace." Killer imagery, Amy Jo. Strikingly true.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Margo Littell

    Cinderland is a memoir of a small-town girl’s coming-of-age amid a local scandal whose effects reach far beyond the months of legal drama. In the 1980s, a handful of girls in Mercury, Pennsylvania, accused a popular piano teacher of sexual abuse. In itself, this is horrifying; worse is the way the town curled in on itself, protecting the abuser and doubting the truth of the girls’ stories. The girls who kept quiet--and there were many--were left not only with guilt over not openly supporting the Cinderland is a memoir of a small-town girl’s coming-of-age amid a local scandal whose effects reach far beyond the months of legal drama. In the 1980s, a handful of girls in Mercury, Pennsylvania, accused a popular piano teacher of sexual abuse. In itself, this is horrifying; worse is the way the town curled in on itself, protecting the abuser and doubting the truth of the girls’ stories. The girls who kept quiet--and there were many--were left not only with guilt over not openly supporting the accusations but also with fear of encountering the town’s disapproval and distrust if they did choose to come forward. The fear was well-founded: one of the accusers chose self-exile in the wake of the ugly response, and the town rarely heard from her family again. This memoir is as much the story of a town at a pivotal moment as it is a personal story of acceptance, reflection, and escape, and the line between young woman and town is almost impossible to pinpoint. You are where you came from, this memoir suggests; but it suggests, just as strongly, that true self-knowledge comes from transcending that home of origin and looking back with both clarity and grace.

  10. 5 out of 5

    M B

    This novel was a moving look into the lives of girls in small town America, which seemed almost necessary for people wanting to understand the . It echoed many of my own experiences growing up in small towns where popularity, tradition, image and dating were of the utmost importance. The way in which she describes the culture of silence and mistrust of girls and women was incredibly moving to me. She poignantly stated that the victims of abuse were treated by many as a gang of conspirators again This novel was a moving look into the lives of girls in small town America, which seemed almost necessary for people wanting to understand the . It echoed many of my own experiences growing up in small towns where popularity, tradition, image and dating were of the utmost importance. The way in which she describes the culture of silence and mistrust of girls and women was incredibly moving to me. She poignantly stated that the victims of abuse were treated by many as a gang of conspirators against a man who did not even deny his guilt in the end. The town was so concerned with its image that adults preferred to support a witch- hunt against children rather than condemn a man they had trusted. She gives a powerful portrait of the inner workings of "rape culture" and the attitudes of silence and demonization/mistrust of girls and women which perpetuate it. I was also felt that her descriptions of the ways that small town girls see and interact with each other were incredibly on point and even reconsidered some of my own experiences given the context she gave to her own story. I found that the story was well written overall, but the ending felt somewhat abrupt and left me wishing there was more reflection on where her life went after high school.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Meshayla Gazelle

    This book, although thinner than my usual reads, has taken the longest time. I do not think any word I type in this review will give it justice of how beautifully devastating it is. Amy Jo Burns has caused my heart to break and re-grow several times in her first book, her memoir. It is so riveting and tells so many different stories in only one point of view: herself. I admire her writing style, her use of metaphors and examples are so beautiful that I have almost cried. I could relate to each c This book, although thinner than my usual reads, has taken the longest time. I do not think any word I type in this review will give it justice of how beautifully devastating it is. Amy Jo Burns has caused my heart to break and re-grow several times in her first book, her memoir. It is so riveting and tells so many different stories in only one point of view: herself. I admire her writing style, her use of metaphors and examples are so beautiful that I have almost cried. I could relate to each character, the acts of secrets and betrayal, and the difficulty of having to learn who you are. The process of writing for herself, of herself, and to herself is something that I am so honored to discover. I am so delighted that I have read Cinderland and I hope to read more of Ms. Burns in the future.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cathleen

    Each chapter was split into two sections, one looking back 3 to 5 years after the trial of piano teacher and the other section being looking back when the author was ten years old. I did not like the format of this book AT ALL. To me it was also written like it was building up to some big secret, but we knew the secret the whole time. I did not finish this book. I made it up to the third chapter and returned it to the library. The writer kept going around and around explaining her relationships Each chapter was split into two sections, one looking back 3 to 5 years after the trial of piano teacher and the other section being looking back when the author was ten years old. I did not like the format of this book AT ALL. To me it was also written like it was building up to some big secret, but we knew the secret the whole time. I did not finish this book. I made it up to the third chapter and returned it to the library. The writer kept going around and around explaining her relationships and how she could never establish any safety within them and that she was a loner, but it was ironic she was a cheerleader and dated the popular guys. I was confused. The author feared she would never make it out of town, I feared I'd never make it out of the book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Memoirs are always hard to review, because they are about someone's life and how they felt, but I'll do my best. While the story started out intriguing it quickly become repetitive, which made it a bit boring, and several times I was wondering what the whole point of the book was. It felt more like a bash against the town of Mercury, and about how wonderful and popular Amy was, than a story about what happened and how it affected her life. The references about it were very vague, which doesn't he Memoirs are always hard to review, because they are about someone's life and how they felt, but I'll do my best. While the story started out intriguing it quickly become repetitive, which made it a bit boring, and several times I was wondering what the whole point of the book was. It felt more like a bash against the town of Mercury, and about how wonderful and popular Amy was, than a story about what happened and how it affected her life. The references about it were very vague, which doesn't help. It's not a memoir I enjoyed, so I wouldn't recommend it, but at least it was a quick read. I received a complimentary copy of this book to review. I was asked to give my honest opinion of the book - which I have done.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mari

    This is a really important book (in re: sexual assault and why a girl would or wouldn't speak up about hers; why a community might take a sexual predator's side; the long-term repercussions of these things). It is also a great read (or "listen," as I purchased the audio book), full of humor and sadness, wistfulness and remorse. The pacing is excellent, the writing superb, and the narrator had a very pleasant voice, at times making you feel as if you were in on a joke with her. Highly recommended This is a really important book (in re: sexual assault and why a girl would or wouldn't speak up about hers; why a community might take a sexual predator's side; the long-term repercussions of these things). It is also a great read (or "listen," as I purchased the audio book), full of humor and sadness, wistfulness and remorse. The pacing is excellent, the writing superb, and the narrator had a very pleasant voice, at times making you feel as if you were in on a joke with her. Highly recommended.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marina

    ** Books 67 - 2015 ** This books to accomplish New Author Reading Challenge 2015 and Yuk Baca Buku Non Fiksi 2015 2,8 of 5 stars! it is about a girl named Amy Jo Burns who lived in Mercury, Pennsylvania and about the scandal in her city is. she and her friend chose to silent and not tell the truth about Mr. Lotte's harassment issue. So far the story is kinda boring since it many repetition about her memories in teenagers. party, dance, piano lesson, school etc. i expect there are something unusual ** Books 67 - 2015 ** This books to accomplish New Author Reading Challenge 2015 and Yuk Baca Buku Non Fiksi 2015 2,8 of 5 stars! it is about a girl named Amy Jo Burns who lived in Mercury, Pennsylvania and about the scandal in her city is. she and her friend chose to silent and not tell the truth about Mr. Lotte's harassment issue. So far the story is kinda boring since it many repetition about her memories in teenagers. party, dance, piano lesson, school etc. i expect there are something unusual from her town story.. >__<

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    I thought this was an interesting story. I loved how Amy tries to rekindle her relationship with Nora. I also admire her various relationships with Pete, Simon, and Aaron. I could relate to how everyone was trying to get away from Mercury; I think during high school everyone feels that way. I won this book through a good reads giveaway. Thank you Amy, for an engaging read. Good job, Kudos! Cindy

  17. 4 out of 5

    Annie Lau

    A great memoir about Amy's past and how it drove her to pursue something different. Well written and voices thoughts that perhaps few of us say out loud. Highly recommend.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Graham Oliver

    Review - http://therumpus.net/2014/10/cinderla... Review - http://therumpus.net/2014/10/cinderla...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    If you're from a small town, trying to get out of a small town, or you've got out of a small town, this is a must read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sally Kenney

    A beautifully written and heartbreaking account of how even good girls don't matter.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Benesh

    Cinderland is a surprisingly complex little story, and it's easy to miss it. Cinderland recounts the experiences of Amy Jo Burns as she comes of age in a small town and grapples with her experience of molestation by a trusted community figure and the enduring effects of her silence. Unlike many memoirs, which seek to provide an objective review of past events or cast a broad narrative arc, this memoir focuses almost exclusively on the author's psychological experience. Though it is grounded in t Cinderland is a surprisingly complex little story, and it's easy to miss it. Cinderland recounts the experiences of Amy Jo Burns as she comes of age in a small town and grapples with her experience of molestation by a trusted community figure and the enduring effects of her silence. Unlike many memoirs, which seek to provide an objective review of past events or cast a broad narrative arc, this memoir focuses almost exclusively on the author's psychological experience. Though it is grounded in the events which take place in the community (and drastically shaped by them), the real focus is how the author's understanding of herself and her relationship to the world change. And in that task, Cinderland excels. The greatest strength of this novel is how well it displays the insidious nature of abuse and trauma. Unlike more dramatic memoirs, the abuse in Cinderland is always simmering just under the surface. At first this might seem boring or even teasing; several other reviews I've seen lament the lack of a clear description of the abuse and it's consequences. These reviewers miss the greater picture - the vast majority of abuse looks like this, not the dramatic unfoldings we see on TV. The abuse is incremental, hidden, vague, and both present in every moment and impossible to pin down. As chapters recount otherwise mundane aspects of being a teen - sexual tension at the swimming pool, dating, finding an identity - everything is colored by the lens of abuse and it's legacy. Similarly, the author does a good job of addressing the ostracization, stigma, guilt and insecurity associated with being a victim. By illustrating the effects of the town's doubt, the pressure to stay silent, the guilt in not supporting those who came forward, the structural pressures by the school and church, and the way people's off-handed thoughts and comments (e.g., "I bet those girls are just saying it for attention") undermine the emotional life of the narrator, she captures something that's often acknowledged but rarely embodied in writing about trauma. I find the comments from another reviewer - who also was raised in the same town but did not experience the same trauma - who dismisses the book and accuses the author of exaggeration to be an interesting illustration of this process. The psychological aspect of the book is reflected in the author's ever changing ways of acknowledging and processing the abuse. In the earliest chapters, it's often a footnote or an aside; here's what happened on Tuesday, and also there is a trial going on. As the memoir progresses we see greater depth and emotional connection - feelings of betrayal, anxiety, guilt, anger, and loss. Later, we begin to see the author turning her abuse into a catalyst for growth, and we see her pushing to find a way out of the town and into the world. I also appreciate that the level of understanding reflected in the memoir is roughly consistent with the narrator's developmental age; earlier memories are foggier and more abstract, while later entries are more abstract and socially contextual. I do with the author was more overt at times; much of the book requires considerable rumination before the stories coalesce into a clear progression. Issues of time and location are often very fuzzy, and while these are not crucial details they do help the reader track whats happening. I think this book would do well to have a forward that strongly articulates it's central thesis. Some of the images and themes are both dramatic and unfortunately under-developed; the exploration of fire and ash (and hence, Cinderland) feels like it wasn't really a part of this book until the latter half. Better connecting and intertwining these images and themes might make for a stronger read. Despite these shortcomings, I found the book very readable and a sensitive reflection. It may not be for everyone, but if you want to know what abuse and trauma really look like then this is a good starting place.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    I sought this book out after reading Burns' essay "Good Girls" in the anthology "Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture". The essay described how 7 girls in a small Pennsylvania town came forward to report that their piano teacher had molested them during their lessons. Burns was also molested by this teacher - but chose to deny it when questioned during the ensuing police investigation. She kept quiet about the sexual abuse she endured after seeing how the girls who came forward had been tr I sought this book out after reading Burns' essay "Good Girls" in the anthology "Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture". The essay described how 7 girls in a small Pennsylvania town came forward to report that their piano teacher had molested them during their lessons. Burns was also molested by this teacher - but chose to deny it when questioned during the ensuing police investigation. She kept quiet about the sexual abuse she endured after seeing how the girls who came forward had been treated - they were ridiculed, ostracized, and treated as members of a conspiracy by those who didn't want to believe the allegations against the esteemed piano teacher. At a young age, Burns learned the sad lesson that a man's word and a man's future matter more than the words and futures of a group of girls. Although I preferred the sharper, more focused version of the story found in the essay, I enjoyed the book (Cinderland) as well. It brought back many memories of my own teenage years - and how risky it felt to share your true thoughts with anyone. This book is for anyone who comes from a conservative, closed-minded community which makes it difficult to speak your truth. This book is for all of those who are waiting to grow up so that they can escape where they came from - so that someday they might be able to live in alignment with their own truths/needs.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kayla

    "I made a decision to follow with blind faith the one steady command inside me: leave, leave, leave. But no matter where I went, I'd never be able to separate myself from the hometown, both infinite and mortal, both angel and demon, that formed me." Cinderland reminded me somewhat of another recent memoir I've read - Educated by Tara Westover - in which there is a running thread by the author of escapism. Both feel wronged by the bubbles in which they grow up. Both feel a need to pop their bubble "I made a decision to follow with blind faith the one steady command inside me: leave, leave, leave. But no matter where I went, I'd never be able to separate myself from the hometown, both infinite and mortal, both angel and demon, that formed me." Cinderland reminded me somewhat of another recent memoir I've read - Educated by Tara Westover - in which there is a running thread by the author of escapism. Both feel wronged by the bubbles in which they grow up. Both feel a need to pop their bubbles and move on. This is a struggle I think most young Nebraskans deal with: residing in a big red flyover state isn't always homely. This book wasn't a favorite by any means, but I appreciated the story it told and the warnings it held. "Boys will be boys, and girls should know better." With the rise of the #MeToo movement, silence is never the best answer. Neglecting the power of our voices has sinister consequences.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Clark

    While written as an adult, it is mostly a memoir of a teenager in a small town overshadowed by accusations against a pedophile piano teacher. While the authors essay in “Not that bad” focuses on the piano teacher, this flushed out the story with a memoir of her years through that period (high school memories, boyfriends, friendships, etc). To be honest, it wasn’t what I was expecting but it is fine for what it is and the writing hooked me into finishing it. Nothing is too small to escape her pen While written as an adult, it is mostly a memoir of a teenager in a small town overshadowed by accusations against a pedophile piano teacher. While the authors essay in “Not that bad” focuses on the piano teacher, this flushed out the story with a memoir of her years through that period (high school memories, boyfriends, friendships, etc). To be honest, it wasn’t what I was expecting but it is fine for what it is and the writing hooked me into finishing it. Nothing is too small to escape her pen. She often has mind-blowing descriptions of minutia (example: Trent Reznor forming and articulating the word fuck in the song Closer) but sometimes it all becomes too absurd (example: her fantasy of being the basketball in the hands of the boys she likes).

  25. 5 out of 5

    ashwini

    This book could have been so good based on the subject matter, and instead was very mediocre. I got thousands of words on mundane high school events that are written in a way that crams metaphor into every sentence. The prose was extremely forced. Everything was so “meaningful.” It’s pretty strange to me that this author is a process writer. But we get very little that’s actually of value to the case itself. How did her family feel when she told them she was writing this book, that she had lied? This book could have been so good based on the subject matter, and instead was very mediocre. I got thousands of words on mundane high school events that are written in a way that crams metaphor into every sentence. The prose was extremely forced. Everything was so “meaningful.” It’s pretty strange to me that this author is a process writer. But we get very little that’s actually of value to the case itself. How did her family feel when she told them she was writing this book, that she had lied? Did she reach out to her friend who told the truth? What was her reaction? Yeah ok, the author wanted to get out of the town she was raised in. There’s really very little else of substance here.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Wheeler

    Good books read quickly; however, great books, those life-changing books, slow time. They make you stare into the space surrounding you, ruminating, and relishing in the sheer power and genius of the words. Cinderland, by Amy Joe Burns is a memoir surrounding the severe impact of having or withholding a voice within the isolating world of being a survivor of sexual abuse. Burn’s words seamlessly display the emotions surrounding silence, young love, the need for connection, and the human want to Good books read quickly; however, great books, those life-changing books, slow time. They make you stare into the space surrounding you, ruminating, and relishing in the sheer power and genius of the words. Cinderland, by Amy Joe Burns is a memoir surrounding the severe impact of having or withholding a voice within the isolating world of being a survivor of sexual abuse. Burn’s words seamlessly display the emotions surrounding silence, young love, the need for connection, and the human want to be seen and heard. This book is a must read, and is an extremely hard act to follow. “Boys will be boys, and girls should know better.” -Amy Jo Burns. 🤯 5/5 stars, plus more. So much more.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jodi Sh.

    Couldn't finish this because "so many books, so little time." Tedious and repetitive.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Kennedy

    Amy Burns's childhood was blasted by one ugly and seminal event: the small town's beloved piano teacher -- Amy's teacher -- was accused of molesting the girls he taught. The town was divided between those who supported and those who condemned the man with the wandering hands. Even more damaging, the piano students themselves were divided: there were those who told the truth and those who lied. Amy Jo Burns lied. Amy's hometown of Mercury, Pennsylvania, was a dying steel town, but a place where sh Amy Burns's childhood was blasted by one ugly and seminal event: the small town's beloved piano teacher -- Amy's teacher -- was accused of molesting the girls he taught. The town was divided between those who supported and those who condemned the man with the wandering hands. Even more damaging, the piano students themselves were divided: there were those who told the truth and those who lied. Amy Jo Burns lied. Amy's hometown of Mercury, Pennsylvania, was a dying steel town, but a place where she was loved and encouraged to excel. She was a popular girl, a straight-A student, a leader, in the running for homecoming queen. She was cocooned not only within her loving family and her school friendships, but within her church and its summer camp, both beloved venues with their own comforting rituals. The girls who accused the piano teacher had these things, too. But in coming forward, they lost it all. The girls who told the truth were ostracized; one family even moved away to escape the condemnation. Even at just 10-years-old, Amy was determined not to lose her status as a "good girl," not to risk anything, not to lose everything she'd worked so hard for. So when the police asked whether she had been molested, she said no. That lie colored her life from that day forward. Her story is not a journalistic retelling of a small town crime, but a lyrical examination of what that lie cost her. "My lie had protected me from outward harm, while inside I rotted," she writes. She maintained her status, became the envy of the other girls, yet because of the lie, she says, "It was a dirty business, getting everything I wanted." The book's title, Cinderland, is apt in so many ways. Amy and her friends play with lighters, set their clothes and skin on fire, gather around bonfires and campfires, watch the cinders float off into the night. The flames of steel-making fires having long gone out, the town itself periodically goes up in flames, as one business or another "accidentally" burns down. But what the title really made me think of was the fairy tale character of Cinderella, a girl who didn't deserve her treatment and dreamed of better days, better places. That's Amy in a nutshell. No matter how many advantages she had or how comforting her surroundings, she is haunted by the specter of the molestation and the lie; she is desperate to escape, and she hatches her plan. Perhaps her drive to escape was the one good thing to come of her wretched moment with the piano teacher. I literally began to cry happy tears for her when she reveals her future. I wish her all the best!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Emily Green

    I was very excited to receive this book through Goodreads First Reads, as I always am to receive books through the program. In Amy Jo Burns Cinderland, she tells the story of her middle school and high school years after being molested by her piano teacher, and the aftermath in her town of Mercury when girls in the community report their own abuse Mr. Lott, as well as her failure to tell the truth about her own experience. Beneath the ghost of the piano teacher, Burns story depicts small town lif I was very excited to receive this book through Goodreads First Reads, as I always am to receive books through the program. In Amy Jo Burns Cinderland, she tells the story of her middle school and high school years after being molested by her piano teacher, and the aftermath in her town of Mercury when girls in the community report their own abuse Mr. Lott, as well as her failure to tell the truth about her own experience. Beneath the ghost of the piano teacher, Burns story depicts small town life, with the desire to leave only a little stronger than the love of the place. Amy loves the town, the school, and the rituals. She becomes a part of the marching band and the school musical theater productions. She becomes a basketball cheerleader and also attends all the football games. Even as she builds a persona of being coldhearted, she becomes an integral part of the town. Burns’s voice is honest and forthright, seldom getting lost in her metaphors or poetic language. While the book could have done with a few less uses of the fire/ash motif, there were moments which were particularly moving, such as the boys at camp lighting themselves on fire, which shows the teenage desire to prove you are alive, brave, and can cheat pain. Burns writes, Next, Becker doused his whole hand in bug spray. I started to get nervous. He flipped open his Zippo and list his hand on fire, waving it around. His hand beamed electric blue, like the end of a lit match. “Knock it off, guys,” I said. “You’re gonna get hurt.” They ignored me. I stepped toward them, about to protest, but Becker clapped his hands together and the flame vanished. “It doesn’t hurt,” he says. “See?” He showed me his hands. His palms were white and soft. The backs of his hands had grown tan from hours spent moving lawns for money. He wiggled his fingers. He’d caught fire but hadn’t burned. It was magic. Not only does the passage illustrate when Burns’s language lifts the story form the mundane, but it also shows her ability to make scenes meaningful. While the plot is built upon the suffering of the girls of the town as a result not only of the molestation, but even more so of the town’s refusal to believe or care for its children, the real story is simply a coming-of-age in a small town. And while Burns’s writing is quite polished, the tale does not quite ever transcend the small town existence the character seeks to escape. While the basic story may be a familiar one, Burns’s writing shows great promise, and I will wait eagerly for her next work.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Janie

    Memoirs aren't my favorite genre, but when I won an ARC of this title I was intrigued by the premise, namely, how one girl's choice to remain silent about being sexually molested affected her life. Good things? It was atmospheric, well assembled, and in some discernible way compelling, despite there being little in the way of action as is often the case in biographies (as I said--not my fave). What didn't quite work for me about Cinderland--and it was kind of a big thing, considering the title-- Memoirs aren't my favorite genre, but when I won an ARC of this title I was intrigued by the premise, namely, how one girl's choice to remain silent about being sexually molested affected her life. Good things? It was atmospheric, well assembled, and in some discernible way compelling, despite there being little in the way of action as is often the case in biographies (as I said--not my fave). What didn't quite work for me about Cinderland--and it was kind of a big thing, considering the title--is the town of Mercury as a character. I thought it was pounded a little overmuch, particularly at the beginning and the end. In all honesty, this could have happened in many towns in the 90s, to many girls, and probably still happens. What makes this story singular? I'm not sure, but to me it isn't the place or the time, like Burns seems to want it to be. Similarly, the prose was somewhat overwrought. Open up to any page and find sentences that make you read them twice trying to determine if they're brilliant, or just plain nonsensical. Considering I don't even finish most ARCs I receive, Cinderland was a win, but I was left wanting more. Amy gets basically everything a girl could want--hot, popular boyfriends, leads in the school play, nomination to the homecoming court, acceptance to an Ivy League college--the only indication her choice to remain silent is damaging is the fact that she's writing this book years later. It just felt--and I hate saying this because nobody's experience of sexual molestation should ever be belittled--like a shallow treatment of what could have been an important subject.

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