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Told with raw, rugged honesty, this heartrending memoir from journalist Sarah Tomlinson recounts her unconventional upbringing and coming-of-age as colored by her complicated relationship with her father. Sarah Tomlinson was born on January 29, 1976, in a farmhouse in Freedom, Maine. After two years of attempted family life in Boston, her father's gambling addiction and bro Told with raw, rugged honesty, this heartrending memoir from journalist Sarah Tomlinson recounts her unconventional upbringing and coming-of-age as colored by her complicated relationship with her father. Sarah Tomlinson was born on January 29, 1976, in a farmhouse in Freedom, Maine. After two years of attempted family life in Boston, her father's gambling addiction and broken promises led her mother to pool her resources with five other families to buy 100 acres of land in Maine and reunite with her college boyfriend. Sarah would spend the majority of her childhood on "The Land" with infrequent, but coveted, visits from her father, who—as a hitchhiking, acid-dropping, wannabe mystic turned taxi driver—was nothing short of a rock star in her eyes. Propelled out of her bohemian upbringing to seek the big life she equated with her father, Sarah entered college at fifteen, where a school shooting further complicated her quest for a sense of safety. While establishing herself as a journalist and rock critic on both coasts, Sarah's father continued to swerve in and out of her life, building and re-breaking their relationship, and fracturing Sarah's confidence and sense of self. In this unforgettable memoir, Sarah conveys the dark comedy in her quest to repair the heart her father broke. Bittersweet, honest, and ultimately redemptive, Good Girl takes an insightful look into what happens when the people we love unconditionally are the people who disappoint us the most, and how time, introspection, and acceptance can help us heal.


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Told with raw, rugged honesty, this heartrending memoir from journalist Sarah Tomlinson recounts her unconventional upbringing and coming-of-age as colored by her complicated relationship with her father. Sarah Tomlinson was born on January 29, 1976, in a farmhouse in Freedom, Maine. After two years of attempted family life in Boston, her father's gambling addiction and bro Told with raw, rugged honesty, this heartrending memoir from journalist Sarah Tomlinson recounts her unconventional upbringing and coming-of-age as colored by her complicated relationship with her father. Sarah Tomlinson was born on January 29, 1976, in a farmhouse in Freedom, Maine. After two years of attempted family life in Boston, her father's gambling addiction and broken promises led her mother to pool her resources with five other families to buy 100 acres of land in Maine and reunite with her college boyfriend. Sarah would spend the majority of her childhood on "The Land" with infrequent, but coveted, visits from her father, who—as a hitchhiking, acid-dropping, wannabe mystic turned taxi driver—was nothing short of a rock star in her eyes. Propelled out of her bohemian upbringing to seek the big life she equated with her father, Sarah entered college at fifteen, where a school shooting further complicated her quest for a sense of safety. While establishing herself as a journalist and rock critic on both coasts, Sarah's father continued to swerve in and out of her life, building and re-breaking their relationship, and fracturing Sarah's confidence and sense of self. In this unforgettable memoir, Sarah conveys the dark comedy in her quest to repair the heart her father broke. Bittersweet, honest, and ultimately redemptive, Good Girl takes an insightful look into what happens when the people we love unconditionally are the people who disappoint us the most, and how time, introspection, and acceptance can help us heal.

30 review for Good Girl: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Liralen

    Tomlinson's parents wanted something other than the daily grind. Her mother raised her in a farmhouse in Maine, but her father wasn't cut out for rural life, or maybe not cut out for a more typical stable life. He left and spent Tomlinson's childhood weaving in and out of her life. Her mother was the one offering the basic necessities, but her father was the one whose infrequent attention she craved. The book doesn't stop in Tomlinson's childhood, though: it follows her through adulthood, still c Tomlinson's parents wanted something other than the daily grind. Her mother raised her in a farmhouse in Maine, but her father wasn't cut out for rural life, or maybe not cut out for a more typical stable life. He left and spent Tomlinson's childhood weaving in and out of her life. Her mother was the one offering the basic necessities, but her father was the one whose infrequent attention she craved. The book doesn't stop in Tomlinson's childhood, though: it follows her through adulthood, still craving her father's attention but with a better understanding of who he was: I had mixed feelings about my dad's advice. When he advised me to emulate a woman who put aside her own needs to love a man who was exceptional, yes, but who was also clearly a selfish, narcissistic womanizer who was maybe a little crazy, I felt that my dad was telling me to love him, no matter how he had let me down or might do so again. And sometimes I resented this greatly, especially because the closer we became, the harder it was for me to understand how my father could have been capable of abandoning me so completely for all of those years. (253) Or there's this: As I listened to him happily plan for just the kind of healthy, DIY life in the woods that he'd opted out of when I was a baby, I waited for the moment when he realized the irony of this, how sad it was that, thirty years too late, he finally wanted and felt capable of the choice that would have allowed us to remain a family. And then I realized he'd never get it. He was so used to thinking only of himself, that's how it'd always be. And so I would have to learn to think of myself first, too. (249) That's growth that you don't get when somebody's looking only at their childhood. There aren't easy answers here. Mostly a lot of questions; sometimes a great deal of tragedy. It's not the core of the book, but Tomlinson survived a school shooting at Simon's Rock, and I found this passage so terribly awful: ...one of Wayne's friends called in an anonymous tip saying that Wayne had a gun and had said he was going to shoot the Kendrick RDs. Instead of intervening with Wayne immediately, the school let him attend a dorm meeting I'd been at, as had Galen. Wayne was then allowed to go back to his room, unsupervised. Meanwhile, the other adults in charge helped the Kendrick RDs evacuate with their small children, which was why, when Wayne started shooting, there were no adults in our dorm. (107) I know this was before schools had extensive safety plans and so on in place (i.e., before school shootings were so commonplace), but the irresponsibility here is staggering. The breadth of the material makes the book feel a bit less tight than it might otherwise, if Tomlinson had stuck to a tighter time frame, but it's also so clear why she wouldn't want to do that. One thing that stuck out to me, though. The acknowledgements section covers four pages, including her father, her stepfather, her extended family, her brother, her sister, 'all of those on the land', and then friends and mentors and so on. Four pages. But her mother's not in there. There are a lot of reasons that could be the case (printer error, editing error, her mother didn't want to be in the acknowledgements for whatever reason, they'd had a falling out...), and of course it's possible that I just missed the mention (though I did check multiple times), but it just...seemed really odd to acknowledge the father who wasn't present but not the mother who was. A puzzle! Won in a firstreads giveaway. The book didn't arrive, so I read was a library copy (though the author graciously offered to send me a new one).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    I received an ARC, and want to thank NetGalley: I wanted to like this book more than I ultimately did. I kept reading and hoping there would be an epiphany and depth, but although the author writes engagingly of her upbringing on a remote "back to nature" setting, her early entrance into college and the subsequent years of freelance writing, and centrally, of her difficult relationship with her father, I found the book frustrating. The author told her story rapidly, and didn't create a sense of p I received an ARC, and want to thank NetGalley: I wanted to like this book more than I ultimately did. I kept reading and hoping there would be an epiphany and depth, but although the author writes engagingly of her upbringing on a remote "back to nature" setting, her early entrance into college and the subsequent years of freelance writing, and centrally, of her difficult relationship with her father, I found the book frustrating. The author told her story rapidly, and didn't create a sense of place and skipped many details--?where did she go to graduate school--so it felt like a summary, almost an outline. For me, the highlights were of her early life in Maine, and in someways, she remained "stuck" in that place: waiting for her father and feeling out of place. Much of her life after she left Maine was spent in a haze of substance use, multiple relationships, interactions with her father and it all became somewhat of a blur. After she entered the maelstrom of her post college life, I kept hoping she'd surface and gain some clarity, and although she wrote some conclusions in the final chapter, I felt that her memoir didn't demonstrate a great deal of insight about her behavior, her relationships with her parents and family and her romantic relationships. She writes well, and covered a lot of ground, but if memoir should serve to illuminate, educate or create a sense of a place, this book came close but just didn't get there, for me. I felt it skimmed but didn't plumb the depths of her life.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tammy Downing

    I received this book for free from Goodreads Giveaways. It is a very moving memoir of a woman who was deserted by her dad and who found in way to a better place. I was quite touched by her struggles.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carole Firstman

    Sarah Tomlinson’s debut memoir, Good Girl, is about her complicated relationship with her narcissistic, often absent father. From the outside, Tomlinson had a picturesque childhood. Born in 1976, she was a bright, precocious child who grew up with her mom, stepfather, and little brother on a hundred-acre rural enclave in Freedom, Maine. Still, she longed for her birth father, an acid-dropping, mystically “enlightened” itinerant taxi-driver her mother had divorced because he was a compulsive gamb Sarah Tomlinson’s debut memoir, Good Girl, is about her complicated relationship with her narcissistic, often absent father. From the outside, Tomlinson had a picturesque childhood. Born in 1976, she was a bright, precocious child who grew up with her mom, stepfather, and little brother on a hundred-acre rural enclave in Freedom, Maine. Still, she longed for her birth father, an acid-dropping, mystically “enlightened” itinerant taxi-driver her mother had divorced because he was a compulsive gambler. As a young girl, Tomlinson looked forward to her father’s sporadic visits. She often stood alone by the window for hours, waiting and waiting for her father to arrive. Most of the time he failed to show. She reflects on the speculative calculations she performed as she stared toward the empty road: As I waited for him to arrive, I rested my fingertips on the wood of the windowsill, staving off my fear of disappointment by redoing the numbers in my mind. At two, when he had still not come, I held onto the logic of my math problem: if he left at eleven, he’d be there by two thirty. But no, just to be safe, maybe he hit traffic, or got his cab serviced, or grabbed a fish sandwich on Route 1. Tomlinson’s story tumbles forth with the rapid urgency of a young woman searching for meaning and perhaps a bit of insight amid the chaos of unexpected wounds created by her neglectful, self-centered father. As a teenager she was smart and ambitious, seeking more than her small high school and her bohemian home life could offer. At age fifteen she left for Bard College at Simon’s Rock before going on to earn a graduate degree and establishing herself as a journalist, music critic, and ghost writer. Throughout her travels to Boston, Portland (Oregon), and Los Angeles, she struggled to negotiate work, love, and friendship. With intelligent and courageous writing, Sarah Tomlinson refuses to dilute the painful realities of her life—the trauma of a school shooting, the social lubricant of drugs and alcohol, the choice of unavailable men. Tomlinson examines her life through a dual lens: one tinted by her inner child’s belief that her personal value is rooted in external validation and the other a clear lens of the grown writer who recognizes her personal value rooted inside herself. For an author, father-daughter memoirs can be tricky business. Confronting fathers directly and publicly is not easy. To write about a father is to sit in judgment upon him. Not only do cultural norms dictate that such judgments are a no-no, but an author-daughter still hopeful of paternal reconciliation has personal, after-publication fallout to consider. She might ask herself what she’s trying to work out on the page, how her story reveals insights about herself, what readers might gain from those insights, and whether her private-made-public revelations might affect her relationship with her still-living father. Not an easy list of considerations. Although the absentee father-daughter conflict is a familiar theme in the larger landscape of memoirs, what is unique and perhaps most engaging in Good Girl is Tomlinson’s honest depiction of how her father’s unavailability shaded almost every aspect of her childhood, teenage, and young adult life. Tomlinson’s prose is strongest when she dives into close observation of her father’s everyday behavior. With subtle humor she captures his delusional revelry and childlike exuberance as he visits her two-story Boston apartment for the first time: He was halfway across the warped kitchen floor when he stopped, transfixed by the view of the treetops and sky straight ahead. He put both hands out as if to steady himself on a surfboard, bent his knees slightly as if testing the give. “Far out,” he said. At its heart, this book is a coming-of-age story about the emotional cavern created by her father’s absence. Tomlinson strives to work around, if not repair, the internal damage her father did. On one level, she continually tries to deepen her connection with him—she really does want to have a relationship with her father, shortcomings and all. On another level, she comes to realize that in order to protect the newfound sense of wholeness she’s strived so hard to achieve, she must keep her father at arm’s length. Good books sometimes remind us of things we already know on some level. We know that people are complicated; we know that daughters can love fathers despite their shortcomings; we know that a wounded heart can crawl back to its source of pain time and again; and we know that there may or may not be an adequate response to a child’s call for parental attention. In the end, Tomlinson finds no tidy solutions. She does, however, leave readers with the glimmer of hope that some sort of peace is possible, even if it means we continue to love unconditionally the people who have disappointed us.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bev

    Since reading an excellent memoir, Karma Deception and a Pair of Red Ferraris, I have been much more inclined to pick these up. This one wasn't so good. I suspect that from now on, I will try out samples/read chapters in the bookstore before attempting the whole thing. It takes talent to write your own story in a way that others are interested. We all think that just because we have lives, they are interesting. That is only true if you are famous and have fans, and who wants a life like that? This Since reading an excellent memoir, Karma Deception and a Pair of Red Ferraris, I have been much more inclined to pick these up. This one wasn't so good. I suspect that from now on, I will try out samples/read chapters in the bookstore before attempting the whole thing. It takes talent to write your own story in a way that others are interested. We all think that just because we have lives, they are interesting. That is only true if you are famous and have fans, and who wants a life like that? This wasn't all bad. It was mildly entertaining, but a little too descriptive and self absorbed for me. http://bevbouwer.blogspot.com/2015/05...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Well, I'm sort of finished. Goodreads needs to add a category called "Hated, Couldn't Continue with this Drivel". It gets two stars for being set in New England. Well, I'm sort of finished. Goodreads needs to add a category called "Hated, Couldn't Continue with this Drivel". It gets two stars for being set in New England.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Coleen

    Enjoying memoirs (also bios and autobios), I was sure I would like this book. I admit that it took me some time and effort to get into it, ready to quit at 20, 30, 50 pages. But closer to 100 pages, I determined to read to the end. It takes a lot of effort for an author to bare one's soul, and I am sure this author was no exception. I asked myself why, as a child, she was so obsessed with her absent father. Maybe this was my own guilt in never understanding the effect of the absence of my sons' Enjoying memoirs (also bios and autobios), I was sure I would like this book. I admit that it took me some time and effort to get into it, ready to quit at 20, 30, 50 pages. But closer to 100 pages, I determined to read to the end. It takes a lot of effort for an author to bare one's soul, and I am sure this author was no exception. I asked myself why, as a child, she was so obsessed with her absent father. Maybe this was my own guilt in never understanding the effect of the absence of my sons' father on them. Only one of my sons ever attempted to have any relatinship with his father as an adult. So as I read these comments and feelings that she had, I kept thinking, 'what the?' And her father was, if not diagnosed as mentally ill, at least a fairly incapable person. Maybe this is not an excuse for his actions, but many fathers are perfectly capable of earning substantial sums and yet, because they are narcissistic, claim they need every penny for themselves, refusing to support their kids. And it was obvious to me that the author really had no idea of right or wrong, moral or immoral. Only what felt Good or made her feel Bad. I took Good girl to mean what made her feel good, although she made a reference towards the end of the book to her father telling her she was a Good girl. Writing a memoir is very therapeutic, and I hope it was for Sarah, whom I like. I read some of her essays, and I think she is a good author, no doubt one of the reasons for her success. I wondered that she never mentioned paying back her student loans when she talked about having trouble paying her bills. Alcohol, cigarettes, and travel all cost a lot of money, which she noted as she aged through the book. When someone besides yourself reads your book. They can read what you wrote, but what you did no 'see'. That, at 25, she blamed her father for not making the 9 mile trip across town to see her, when she was made capable than he was, of making the trip across town to see him. Likewise, earlier with Scott, when she blamed him for not moving with her, when easily one could say she did not love him enough to stay with him. Finally, the only point in the book that made me angry was the Doctor who advised Sarah about her five years left, (biological clock) and told her, "Meet a nice guy and have a baby." What doctor could be so irresponsible? Better to have said, get a puppy or a kitten, but a baby? A human being? When Sarah wrote several pages later, discussing men, "How can they be a husband? How can they be a father?" I wondered whether she realized readers would be asking, "How could she be a wife? How could she be a mother?" I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Esme

    From the synopsis, I was expecting something more along the lines of “North of Normal” by Cea Person, which I read earlier this year—“Her mother and step-father were committed back-to-the-landers: 1980s DIY vegetarians who built their own house on ten acres of wild Main woodland”—however her mother and step-father quickly disappear into the background and her absentee father takes center stage for most of the book along with her own rather narcissistic navel-gazing. So it seems she was formed co From the synopsis, I was expecting something more along the lines of “North of Normal” by Cea Person, which I read earlier this year—“Her mother and step-father were committed back-to-the-landers: 1980s DIY vegetarians who built their own house on ten acres of wild Main woodland”—however her mother and step-father quickly disappear into the background and her absentee father takes center stage for most of the book along with her own rather narcissistic navel-gazing. So it seems she was formed completely by her father’s absence and will never be able to get past it. Mom and stepdad get very little credit for being a secure stabilizing influence in her life. She just seems to want to flee from them. This was a very slow read, and hundred pages in and we’re still delving into teen angst hand-wringing. What one would assume is a major traumatic life event, the fact that she lost a friend in a school shooting in the early 90s, is rather buried somewhere in the middle of the book. By the time I was halfway through, I was still trying to understand Sarah and why she behaved the way she did. I found her frustrating and immature. Late in the book she gets involved in a relationship and discusses what seems to be pretty wild insecurity and emotional mood swings. She was laying this on her new partner, three weeks into the relationship. Not surprising the relationship quickly fell apart. I thought it was brave of her to lay herself out there, warts and all, but the product she produced with this book was just not compelling. I found it tedious and in need of a good editor.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    While I love a good memoir, I found GOOD GIRL: A MEMOIR seemed to moved a little slow and spent a lot of time saying the same thing over and over again. But in retrospect; Sarah Tomlinson, like so many of us, made similar misjudgements time and time again until she learned her lessons. Admittedly, part of what made it difficult for me to relate to this book is my age. At 57, I couldn't identify with her Goth stage or any of the music her world revolved around. If I were about 15-20 years younger While I love a good memoir, I found GOOD GIRL: A MEMOIR seemed to moved a little slow and spent a lot of time saying the same thing over and over again. But in retrospect; Sarah Tomlinson, like so many of us, made similar misjudgements time and time again until she learned her lessons. Admittedly, part of what made it difficult for me to relate to this book is my age. At 57, I couldn't identify with her Goth stage or any of the music her world revolved around. If I were about 15-20 years younger, it might have resonated more soundly with me. Sarah's story is sadly more commonplace than not. A young girl constantly longing for her father's attention and repeating that scenario throughout her life with other relationships. The redeeming party of this story is that she does finally open her eyes and quits blaming her father for all of her mistakes. She becomes accountable, makes peace with her childhood and grows as a woman. Tomlinson is obviously a strong woman who has found success with lots of hard work. I wish I could say I loved this book because there are lots of compelling reasons to appreciate it, but I think it is better suited for a child of the 80's instead of this child of the 60's and 70's. I was given a digital copy of this book by NetGallery in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Nowak

    * I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review* I found this book to be very wordy, slow and boring. In the first third of the book, Sarah had made it to 16 years of age and the only things I knew about her were that she felt like she never fit in and that her biological dad was a loser. These facts were repeated time and time again!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Siel Ju

    “I was all alone, as we were all alone, with nothing but the wind in the trees.” * This memoir is about growing up with a distant, often-disappearing father — and the way that first rejection colors Sarah’s later romances. Throughout the book she repeatedly tries to make relationships happen with men who make it absolutely clear they’re not interested in a relationship from the get go and are usually just total assholes that use and mistreat her — and acts so needy when relationships do happen tha “I was all alone, as we were all alone, with nothing but the wind in the trees.” * This memoir is about growing up with a distant, often-disappearing father — and the way that first rejection colors Sarah’s later romances. Throughout the book she repeatedly tries to make relationships happen with men who make it absolutely clear they’re not interested in a relationship from the get go and are usually just total assholes that use and mistreat her — and acts so needy when relationships do happen that her fear of rejection keeps becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. This sometimes makes for a frustrating read, but despite the many differences in our lives there’s so much I related to — the overwhelming feeling of loss after a brief but intense affair, the fragile sense of self-worth after a perceived rejection, even from someone you disliked. I loved the raw emotion. And the book did also make me think: Do we suffer from the fallout of our early woundings, or do we create most of our own suffering by buying too much into the idea that we’re damaged by our early woundings — thereby believing we have no choice but to reeact them?

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I bought this book back in 2014 and for some reason haven't picked it up until now. Perhaps it's because I'm in this memoir kick. Or maybe it's because someday I'd like to write my own father / daughter memoir. I didn't know what to expect but I absolutely loved this book. It's raw, heartfelt, brave, and compelling. Tomlinson can write. I sped through it and felt every insecurity, fear, rush, and disappointment that Sarah felt. I know what it's like to have an estranged father and so all of Sara I bought this book back in 2014 and for some reason haven't picked it up until now. Perhaps it's because I'm in this memoir kick. Or maybe it's because someday I'd like to write my own father / daughter memoir. I didn't know what to expect but I absolutely loved this book. It's raw, heartfelt, brave, and compelling. Tomlinson can write. I sped through it and felt every insecurity, fear, rush, and disappointment that Sarah felt. I know what it's like to have an estranged father and so all of Sarah's pain and rage at her dad really hit home with me. I loved reading about her relationships, her drug use, her rock and roll nights, her school life, and her career path. It's not just a father-daughter story but a poignant coming-of-age tale of a rebellious and resilient young woman.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Debi Lantzer Stout

    I always love memoirs and try to read as many of them as I can. Usually I read the memoirs told by the siblings or other family members of famous people - actors, political figures, musicians. I chose to read Good Girl by Sarah Tomlinson because it had been a while since I had read a memoir and after all, she has the same birthday as me - January 29 - so why not! Sarah Tomlinson shares with readers her very unconventional upbringing and the "ins and outs" of growing up with her sometimes present I always love memoirs and try to read as many of them as I can. Usually I read the memoirs told by the siblings or other family members of famous people - actors, political figures, musicians. I chose to read Good Girl by Sarah Tomlinson because it had been a while since I had read a memoir and after all, she has the same birthday as me - January 29 - so why not! Sarah Tomlinson shares with readers her very unconventional upbringing and the "ins and outs" of growing up with her sometimes present father. Sarah's parents split up when Sarah is just a small child and once her mom reunited with her college boyfriend, Craig, they buy 100 acres of land with five other families up in Maine. Sarah spends the majority of her childhood there on what they call "the Land" while her father pops in and out of her life with random visits. Sarah does her best to be mature so her father comes back, believing her behavior is what causes him to visit or not visit, when in reality he's a hitchhiking, acid-dropping, wannabe mystic turned taxi driver. Sarah enters college at fifteen and when she graduates, she goes on to move to various cities in the United States, working as a journalist and rock critic. All through this story, there is always the issue of her father, no matter where she goes. Even after they later connect again in her twenties, and constantly communicate and see each other, she's still working out her daddy issues in her head and in her life, even into her late thirties. As I read this memoir, I was kind of sad for Sarah, who didn't understand the reasons for the inappropriate behaviors of some of the grown ups in her life when she was young, and just couldn't let go of throughout her life. Sarah shows her readers how her father's non-committal and undependable love affects a young daughter, and how she moves in her own life without the tools to understand what is happening. She talks about striving to be "perfect" in school - not just good, not just average, but "perfect" so she would have something significant to set her apart from her half siblings and to encourage others to love her. Sarah tells her story very frankly, and I felt as if I were sitting at the table listening to her share her story. If you are one of those people who spent too much of their childhood yearning for a parents' love, you will completely identify with Sarah's story. The story does teeter on "TMI" - too much information - as it pertains to her drinking, smoking and love life issues, while she dealing with the emotional damage left by her father's shortcomings. This isn't a book about blaming her father either, she just shares her story and that happens to be a part of it. The thing that keeps you reading this book is the great writing. There's no question that the book is well written. Sarah perseveres and her path is actually inspiring. This book was not what I would call an easy read, but once you start, you can't put it down until you are finished. I don't think Sarah set out to inspire others, but I think in a round about way, she is inspirational. As I said above, the book is very well written and Ms. Tomlinson does a great job sharing her story. Thank you so much NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and unbiased opinion.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Anne Uniss

    I'm not a huge fan of memoirs, for the most part. They often seem whiny or self-aggrandizing, a little too much like you're sitting next to someone and listening to every detail of their lives. And it's hard to critique a memoir, which is why I've put this off. It's her story, and it's seen from her eyes. The author may whine, or promote, but it's their story seen from their eyes. It's probably not whiny to the author. That said, and taking out the things I don't necessarily like about memoirs, th I'm not a huge fan of memoirs, for the most part. They often seem whiny or self-aggrandizing, a little too much like you're sitting next to someone and listening to every detail of their lives. And it's hard to critique a memoir, which is why I've put this off. It's her story, and it's seen from her eyes. The author may whine, or promote, but it's their story seen from their eyes. It's probably not whiny to the author. That said, and taking out the things I don't necessarily like about memoirs, this one wasn't too bad. The Premise Sarah is bright, precocious child born to hippy parents in the 70's. When her dad's lifestyle and gambling force her mother to leave him, she and a few others head to rural Maine to live life on the land. She reunites with her college boyfriend, and bands with five other families to buy 100 acres. Sarah's upbringing is rural and bohemian, but she dreams of more, including more time with her father. His visitations into her life are hit or miss, making young Sarah believe that if she can just be good, he will show up more often. Sarah is smart and ambitious, seeking more than her small high school and her bohemian home life. Acceptance into early college at age 15 (a special program at Bard College), Sarah seeks to grow closer to her father (a gambling, acid dropping, mystically 'enlightened,' itinerant taxi-driver) by growing up. While seeking a place to be safe and to fit in, Sarah's life is scarred by a school shooting that shatters her small school. Sarah's tale continues with her search for meaning and growth, taking her back and forth from Maine, Oregon, New York, Boston, and Los Angeles. She lives a big life in search of her place, and she shares it with us. My Thoughts Again, not a memoir fan. But Tomlinson's story is interesting and engrossing. A child of divorce, seeking to connect with a father that is a little to introspective to realize what he is doing to his daughter, I can imagine that Sarah's story is probably familiar to many children of the seventies and early eighties (when the Age of Aquarius folks were becoming parents). Her quest for more from life is familiar to me, although my life was much different. Tomlinson is a gifted writer, and a pretty good storyteller. She does a good job of telling her story in a captivating, compelling way that I enjoyed. The fact that a memoir kept me reading is proof that it was pretty good.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tonya

    Told with raw, rugged honesty, this heartrending memoir from journalist Sarah Tomlinson recounts her unconventional upbringing and coming-of-age as colored by her complicated relationship with her father. Sarah Tomlinson was born on January 29, 1976, in a farmhouse in Freedom, Maine. After two years of attempted family life in Boston, her father's gambling addiction and broken promises led her mother to pool her resources with five other families to buy 100 acres of land in Maine and reunite with Told with raw, rugged honesty, this heartrending memoir from journalist Sarah Tomlinson recounts her unconventional upbringing and coming-of-age as colored by her complicated relationship with her father. Sarah Tomlinson was born on January 29, 1976, in a farmhouse in Freedom, Maine. After two years of attempted family life in Boston, her father's gambling addiction and broken promises led her mother to pool her resources with five other families to buy 100 acres of land in Maine and reunite with her college boyfriend. Sarah would spend the majority of her childhood on "The Land" with infrequent, but coveted, visits from her father, who—as a hitchhiking, acid-dropping, wannabe mystic turned taxi driver—was nothing short of a rock star in her eyes. Propelled out of her bohemian upbringing to seek the big life she equated with her father, Sarah entered college at fifteen, where a school shooting further complicated her quest for a sense of safety. While establishing herself as a journalist and rock critic on both coasts, Sarah's father continued to swerve in and out of her life, building and re-breaking their relationship, and fracturing Sarah's confidence and sense of self. In this unforgettable memoir, Sarah conveys the dark comedy in her quest to repair the heart her father broke. Bittersweet, honest, and ultimately redemptive, Good Girl takes an insightful look into what happens when the people we love unconditionally are the people who disappoint us the most, and how time, introspection, and acceptance can help us heal. --My thoughts. Bravo for telling your story. I think a lot of times we hold onto things way too long and let other peoples actions hurt us. We let them take up rent in our heads when we should kick them out! I know that to be the case in my own life, and I think it is in this case too! I agree, parents can cause a lot of hurt. Time can heal a lot of wounds but I also think maybe if we are honest things aren't always we thought they were and our parents only did what they thought best. I know as a parent, I have done my best. That being said, I am glad I read this memoir! Not too often I read good memoirs!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Pam S

    I tend to gravitate to memoirs like this; ones that examine the darkness of the human psyche in all its shadowy glory. Not that I don’t like a frothy tell-all (I do) but it’s those personal stories that illustrate love, lust, loss, learning, and life in all its inherent messiness that really pull me in and stay with me long after the last page has been turned. This is such a book. Sarah Tomlinson’s examination of her life long struggle to have a healthy (or any) relationship with her father reve I tend to gravitate to memoirs like this; ones that examine the darkness of the human psyche in all its shadowy glory. Not that I don’t like a frothy tell-all (I do) but it’s those personal stories that illustrate love, lust, loss, learning, and life in all its inherent messiness that really pull me in and stay with me long after the last page has been turned. This is such a book. Sarah Tomlinson’s examination of her life long struggle to have a healthy (or any) relationship with her father reveals much more beneath the surface of the child-parent dynamic, delving deeply into adolescent angst, personal development, the connection between sexuality and self identity, and the continued struggle to answer that question which can’t ever really be answered: Who am I and what is my purpose in life? That seems to drive Tomlinson throughout, as she navigates her (often thorny) relationships with everything in her life; men, sex, writing, self-worth, and the ultimate realization that maybe her father’s mental illness is driving so much of his, and her own, behavior. This book is not a study in mental illness, or sexual compulsion, or the often complex relationships between parents and children, it all of those and none of those; an honest, often heart wrenching story of one woman’s quest to discover who she is and why she is here. After so many years of being a ghost writer for celebrity memoirs, telling the stories of other people’s lives, it must be a relief for Tomlinson to finally be able to share her own remarkable story.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Thank you to the author and Reading with Robin for the opportunity to win this book. I was intrigued by the cover as soon as I saw it. The picture of the author as a young girl reminded me of someone I went to elementary school with, so I felt going in a kinship with the author. Sarah Tomlinson grew up living off the land in Maine with her mother and step father in a somewhat hippy-ish existence. Her father, who was a gambler, was only peripherally involved with her early life though she longed Thank you to the author and Reading with Robin for the opportunity to win this book. I was intrigued by the cover as soon as I saw it. The picture of the author as a young girl reminded me of someone I went to elementary school with, so I felt going in a kinship with the author. Sarah Tomlinson grew up living off the land in Maine with her mother and step father in a somewhat hippy-ish existence. Her father, who was a gambler, was only peripherally involved with her early life though she longed for his attention and love. This constant want of love made her relationships with men difficult all of her life. She lead a very bohemian life, always feeling like and outsider, entering college at 16 after 2 miserable years at the local public high school, following early punk, grunge and other indy bands, going on to become a music journalist working mostly freelance for the Boston Globe and later as a ghost writer for several celebrity autobiographies. She lived in Maine, Boston, New York, Portland and finally in Los Angeles always following an alternative lifestyle, seeking a more fulfilling existence. She had several years of a better relationship with her father, but it seemed the close relationship would always elude them, due to her father's gambling and possibly mental illness.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lissa00

    3.5 stars After her parents split when she was a young child, Sarah Tomlinson found herself standing by the window for hours waiting for her often absent father to give some of his attention to her. Most of the time, he failed to show leaving her feeling disappointed and abandoned. A feeling she carried with her into adulthood and numerous relationships. This isn't really a new story and I'm sure that there are a handful of neighbors just on my street that have a similar sad story. What I enjoyed 3.5 stars After her parents split when she was a young child, Sarah Tomlinson found herself standing by the window for hours waiting for her often absent father to give some of his attention to her. Most of the time, he failed to show leaving her feeling disappointed and abandoned. A feeling she carried with her into adulthood and numerous relationships. This isn't really a new story and I'm sure that there are a handful of neighbors just on my street that have a similar sad story. What I enjoyed most about this memoir was her unusual upbringing living off the land with her mother and stepfather, her early admittance to college and the insight into her life as a freelance music critic and hopeful novelist. She did turn tremendously angsty and while that is reasonable as a teenager and young adult, when she was thirty-five with the exact same hang-ups, I just wanted someone to shake her and tell her to get over herself. That doesn't ever happen but fortunately she does end the memoir with some enlightenment. Overall, this memoir was incredible readable but not exactly anything new to add to the genre. I received an eGalley of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Memoirs are always hard to review negatively, but I really struggled with this one. Picked this book up at Los Angeles Festival of Books where I saw the author speak and was looking forward to reading it, however ultimately I found it pretty repetitive and cliche. What's unfortunate is there are part of Tomlinson's life that were intriguing to me... growing up in an alternative "Land" community, attending an unusual east coast boarding school and coming of age during the "grunge" era. There is a Memoirs are always hard to review negatively, but I really struggled with this one. Picked this book up at Los Angeles Festival of Books where I saw the author speak and was looking forward to reading it, however ultimately I found it pretty repetitive and cliche. What's unfortunate is there are part of Tomlinson's life that were intriguing to me... growing up in an alternative "Land" community, attending an unusual east coast boarding school and coming of age during the "grunge" era. There is an interesting opportunity to write about the now quasi-distant early nineties, but the book sort of glossy over this to focus on the often mundane exchanges she has with her father and boyfriends. We get stuck in her head with very little perspective. A potentially unintentional consequence of the way this book is written is that Tomlinson, who spends much of the book coming to terms with her father's self-centered nature, ends up coming across as a bit self absorbed herself, which I don't think is necessarily the case. Writing a book is incredibly challenging, especially a book based on your own story. Ms. Tomlinson is an experienced writer with a few books under her belt, albeit ghostwritten books, but I'm guessing this wasn't her best work.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Elcik

    Sarah Tomlinson’s Good Girl is a beautifully written memoir detailing the author’s struggle to make meaning of the unexpected ways the wound of her father’s neglect festers in her life as perfectionism, ambition, and destructive relationships. Through powerful and brave writing that refuses to dilute the painful realities of her life—from the trauma of a school shooting to the social lubricant of drugs and alcohol to choosing unavailable and sometimes unkind men—Tomlinson examines her story thro Sarah Tomlinson’s Good Girl is a beautifully written memoir detailing the author’s struggle to make meaning of the unexpected ways the wound of her father’s neglect festers in her life as perfectionism, ambition, and destructive relationships. Through powerful and brave writing that refuses to dilute the painful realities of her life—from the trauma of a school shooting to the social lubricant of drugs and alcohol to choosing unavailable and sometimes unkind men—Tomlinson examines her story through a dual lens: one clouded by her past self’s heartbreaking belief that her personal value is rooted in external validation and the other the clear lens of Tomlinson the writer who recognizes her personal is rooted inside herself. Though the memoir depicts the rightful anger Tomlinson felt about what she calls “the lack” her father’s careless attentions created in her, that anger is clearly tempered by an overwhelming sense of love and compassion for the broken people around her. The ultimate triumph of the memoir is in the way Tomlinson shows her evolution into a wise woman who has learned to giver herself the gift of that same love and compassion.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Girl Well Read

    A special thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Oh Sarah... I really wanted to like your book so much more than I actually did. I kept waiting for something to happen, some epiphany but nothing really happened. Her accolades and experience are impressive. I'm sure she's a gifted writer, in fact I would actually like to read some of her music reviews which are probably fantastic, but I really didn't care for her style. Her story is told so rapidly, like one giant conv A special thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Oh Sarah... I really wanted to like your book so much more than I actually did. I kept waiting for something to happen, some epiphany but nothing really happened. Her accolades and experience are impressive. I'm sure she's a gifted writer, in fact I would actually like to read some of her music reviews which are probably fantastic, but I really didn't care for her style. Her story is told so rapidly, like one giant conversation that makes your head spin. You know when you haven't seen someone for a long time, and you talk incessantly, cramming in a lifetimes worth of conversation into one evening? That's how I felt reading this. I didn't feel like she had found her voice or her place in life, perhaps that is why she wrote the book like this? I just craved more detail from her not the staccato storytelling. I was also waiting for a proper conclusion; I thought that the ending would mark something monumental but there was no build up and it just ended. It was as if her goal was to cover off as as much as possible without going into any detail.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Susanna

    I really, really wanted to love this book, and there were many things I liked about it, especially the way Tomlinson spans a large amount of time pretty gracefully, taking us from her very early childhood into her 30s at least, and the way she doesn't grant a happy ending, but indicates the way a person can work around the problems of early life to find a satisfying adult existence. I wished, though, that in some ways she had been more disclosing and more even. There are specific scenes (with di I really, really wanted to love this book, and there were many things I liked about it, especially the way Tomlinson spans a large amount of time pretty gracefully, taking us from her very early childhood into her 30s at least, and the way she doesn't grant a happy ending, but indicates the way a person can work around the problems of early life to find a satisfying adult existence. I wished, though, that in some ways she had been more disclosing and more even. There are specific scenes (with dialogue and very exact scene-setting) from when she is three years old, and yet in later parts of the book we skim. It feels almost coy about the rockers she's involved with romantically, which is fine in terms of protecting their privacy/protecting herself, except that I particularly wanted to read some self-examination about the fact that she continually becomes involved with musicians whom she interviews for her work -- and there really is none. Mostly I wanted less summary and more depth, which is what kept this book in "liked it" status for me, rather than a deeply moving read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    The experiences of Sarah Tomlinson are so far from my own, that it was difficult for me to relate to the book in any way. However, as I am ever interested in human behavior, I kept reading for that very reason; to expand my understanding of life as it may happen for others. For those that are trying to decide if you should read this, and care as I do: there is a little explicitness in this memoir, as well as some language and drug references. You could walk away from reading this book either gra The experiences of Sarah Tomlinson are so far from my own, that it was difficult for me to relate to the book in any way. However, as I am ever interested in human behavior, I kept reading for that very reason; to expand my understanding of life as it may happen for others. For those that are trying to decide if you should read this, and care as I do: there is a little explicitness in this memoir, as well as some language and drug references. You could walk away from reading this book either grateful you do not have this depth of trauma to navigate in your own life, or inspired to heal your own trauma. I have a feeling there are thousands of people in the world that have this depth of trauma to deal with, specific to their own situations. And like Sarah discovered, the results will live with you forever, but there are ways to find peace. I received this book as a goodreads giveaway. It may not have rocked my world, but I walked away with some unique insights I hadn't had before. Kudos to the author for exposing herself so rawly and bravely.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Sarah Tomlinson's memoir about her complicated relationship with her father was an engaging and rewarding read. It is about the minefield that is left when a parent leaves home and is absent and neglectful. It is about the hole that is created and the attempts to fill it with whatever works at the moment. It is also about the struggle to understand why, the tendency towards self-blame and, in this case, the fortitude to find a way to make meaning and enjoy life. Though Sarah shows us how her sel Sarah Tomlinson's memoir about her complicated relationship with her father was an engaging and rewarding read. It is about the minefield that is left when a parent leaves home and is absent and neglectful. It is about the hole that is created and the attempts to fill it with whatever works at the moment. It is also about the struggle to understand why, the tendency towards self-blame and, in this case, the fortitude to find a way to make meaning and enjoy life. Though Sarah shows us how her self-loathing sometimes made her passive and impulsive I admired how actively she did pursue her dreams and talents, whether it was to go to college or to leave a place that did not feel like home. I also enjoyed reading about her relationship to her father, who I liked and probably did his best, which, lucky for him, his goodhearted daughter, came to understand. Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to review this book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    I think this was very good.Sarahs' Mom & Dad get a divorce and she is raised by her Mom & step Dad in Maine.They live off the land and try to make due with very little.Her Dad is always promising to come & visit but rarely shows up.It has an affect on her as she is growing up and has abandonment issues.Sarah doesn't realize her Dad is an alcoholic and drug addict and also has mental issues until she is older.Sarah is very smart and goes to a college at a young age.There is a shooting at school a I think this was very good.Sarahs' Mom & Dad get a divorce and she is raised by her Mom & step Dad in Maine.They live off the land and try to make due with very little.Her Dad is always promising to come & visit but rarely shows up.It has an affect on her as she is growing up and has abandonment issues.Sarah doesn't realize her Dad is an alcoholic and drug addict and also has mental issues until she is older.Sarah is very smart and goes to a college at a young age.There is a shooting at school and one of her good friends is killed,this also has an affect on her life.This is also about growing up in the 80's & 90's.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    i received this book from Gallery books and want to thank them. Sarah writes openly and honestly, in great detail about her complicated relationship with her father and how it permeated all aspects of her life. "none of my accomplishments touched the deep lack my dad had created with me, or altered the way it played out with men." Ultimately she does a lot of soul searching and therapeutic work to get to a place of accepting him as he is, while acknowledging his absences and failings will always l i received this book from Gallery books and want to thank them. Sarah writes openly and honestly, in great detail about her complicated relationship with her father and how it permeated all aspects of her life. "none of my accomplishments touched the deep lack my dad had created with me, or altered the way it played out with men." Ultimately she does a lot of soul searching and therapeutic work to get to a place of accepting him as he is, while acknowledging his absences and failings will always leave scars. It deeply resonated with me and I found it a compelling honest memoir. It clearly shows the impact a selfish parent can have on a child.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    4 Stars! I won a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review thanks to the First Reads giveaway program. I think this is the first memoir I have ever read and I really enjoyed it. It was good. Sarah lived an interesting life as a child, nothing at all like mine. My heart really felt for her when it came to her dad. He seemed like a jag off. I definitely would not have pined for his approval and affection the way that she did. I would've been like: "Well, screw you, good sir!" Anywho, I 4 Stars! I won a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review thanks to the First Reads giveaway program. I think this is the first memoir I have ever read and I really enjoyed it. It was good. Sarah lived an interesting life as a child, nothing at all like mine. My heart really felt for her when it came to her dad. He seemed like a jag off. I definitely would not have pined for his approval and affection the way that she did. I would've been like: "Well, screw you, good sir!" Anywho, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a relaxing read. Someone who's tired of thrillers and suspense.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Carly

    Hard to write a review of a book that I forgot about the second I put down. Oddly enough, LOTS of the content resonated with me and so I was very excited to read it, but it just...wasn't a good read. I'll say this: there is a difference between having an interesting life, and writing an interesting memoir. Many five-star memoirs I've read aren't actually written by authors with exceptionally fascinating lives, rather, the writing is just really fucking good. This is an example of a memoir about Hard to write a review of a book that I forgot about the second I put down. Oddly enough, LOTS of the content resonated with me and so I was very excited to read it, but it just...wasn't a good read. I'll say this: there is a difference between having an interesting life, and writing an interesting memoir. Many five-star memoirs I've read aren't actually written by authors with exceptionally fascinating lives, rather, the writing is just really fucking good. This is an example of a memoir about someone with a relatively interesting life that just did not translate well into memoir, because the writing is lacking.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marjorie

    Given To Me For An Honest Review Good Girl by Sarah Tomlinson. This is the memoir of the author and her life growing up at times with her father and at times without. For many years, she blamed her father for everything that ever went wrong in her life. Then came the time that she finally matured and learned to be both forgiving and accepting. Her writing is very good, although there are times it is a bit slow and repetitive. All in all it was an interesting read. I look for more from Sarah Tomli Given To Me For An Honest Review Good Girl by Sarah Tomlinson. This is the memoir of the author and her life growing up at times with her father and at times without. For many years, she blamed her father for everything that ever went wrong in her life. Then came the time that she finally matured and learned to be both forgiving and accepting. Her writing is very good, although there are times it is a bit slow and repetitive. All in all it was an interesting read. I look for more from Sarah Tomlinson.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    Beautifully written, honest, heartbreaking and healing. An incredibly intense memoir.... centered around a woman and her unconventional and intrinsically interesting relationship with her father. I stayed up all night reading.... the delicate questions that Sarah Tomlinson asks herself....lead to self-pondering upon my own childhood and my relationship choices, and kept me up thinking until dawn. Beautiful and hypnotic.

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