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Extended Audio Sample Girls of Tender Age: A Memoir Audiobook, by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.97 out of 53.97 out of 53.97 out of 53.97 out of 53.97 out of 5 3.97 (37 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Mary-Ann Tirone Smith Narrator: Mary-Ann Tirone Smith Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2006 ISBN: 9780743554176
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In Girls of Tender Age, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith seamlessly combines a memoir whose intimacy matches that of Angela's Ashes with the tale of a community plagued by a malevolent predator that holds the emotional and cultural resonance of The Lovely Bones.

Smith's Hartford, Connecticut neighborhood is small-town America, a post-World War II housing project where everyone's door is unlocked and everything is within walking distance. Her family is peopled with memorable characters-her possibly psychic mother, her adoring father, and the numerous aunts and cousins who parade through her life with love and food and endless stories of the old days.

And then there's her brother, Tyler, Mary-Ann's real-life Boo Radley. An autistic before anyone knew what that meant, Tyler was unable to bear noise of any kind. The sound of crying, laughing, phones ringing, or toilets flushing was such an assault, he would substitute that pain with another: he'd try to chew his arm off.

Hanging over this chaotic, but joyous American childhood is the sinister shadow of an approaching serial killer. The menacing Bob Malm lurks throughout this family portrait, and when the paths of innocence and evil cross one early December evening in 1953, the havoc he unleashes forever alters the landscape of Smith's childhood. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A masterful fiction writer tells her own story: one little girl dies, the other comes of age and gives voice to herself and her murdered friend. Riveting, heartbreaking, hilarious, I loved this book for its compassion, its vividness, and its flashes of justifiable anger. A life-affirming read.” 

    Wally Lamb, New York Times bestselling author

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

    Washington Post

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

    Boston Globe

  • “A riveting memoir that encompasses the murder of a schoolmate by a pedophile and life with a brother who suffered from autism.” 

    People

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bobbi | 2/15/2014

    " Part memoir- part true crime. Wonderful read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marsha | 2/15/2014

    " Memoir of growing up in a 1950's family of modest means and the effect a local murder has on the author, her family and her neighborhood. Filled with period details and social observation. Especially touching was the plight of her family due to the strains of raising an autistic child, especially when it was so alien and misunderstood. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Xenia0201 | 2/6/2014

    " Really moving story of the author growing up in Hartford, CT in the 1950's with her autistic brother and family with Italian and French Canadian roots. A truly disturbing horrific event changes everything and years later she explores its affect on her since she never was allowed closure or even an opportunity to deal with it. I couldn't put the book down and read it straight through in 6 hours. Somehow, someway, I felt a connection to Tirone-Smith. I found humor in her descriptions of her autistic brother who reminded me of a cousin I have. Maybe because certain events and themes reminded me of Autumn Street by Lois Lowry, though this isn't in any way fictional. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tracy | 1/31/2014

    " The author wrote this novel about her life with a large extended family, an autistic brother and her parents - one parent who essentially checked out and one parent who was completed devoted to her brother's care. Interestingly, the devoted parent was her father. Central to her life was the murder of a school friend that occurred when she was 9. The murder was never discussed at home or school despite the fact that it happened just blocks from her home. Later in life, after the author had written several novels, she decided to learn more about the murder, the trial and the killer's life. The result is this novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessica | 1/25/2014

    " Great book. I don't know if I just really liked it because it took place in the South End of Hartford, but it was well written, good story, and gave an interesting history of Hartford. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lorraine | 1/24/2014

    " Because I needed to do a lot of traveling this pass month, I decided to listen to an audio book and choose "Girls of Tender Age" because the story took place in my home state of Connecticut. The narrator was the author, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, who reads brilliantly and who is also a gifted story-teller as is reflected in her memoir. She engages the listener instantly with her unique style of writing and her verbal delivery of "her" story. I really enjoyed this story even thou the subject matter was heavy, it made driving this month a joy! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pam | 1/18/2014

    " A memoir...woman's brother has autism, family's denial of what's really happening with him. But she grows up to be a writer and writes about a murder of a child that happened in her neighborhood as a child. I liked this a lot. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nancy L. | 1/14/2014

    " A thought-provoking memoir of how the world has changed "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pattie | 1/8/2014

    " This is a true story of the author's childhood. It brought back a lot of good childhood memories for me but, while the author and I shared the ERA, she had a horrible experience and a dysfunctional homelife! A bit confusing at times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 12/31/2013

    " Memoirs of messed up childhoods and those who triumph over them are my favorite genre, especially ones in mid-twentieth century America; this one was pretty much as good as they get. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cynthia | 12/25/2013

    " I love a good memoir and this one was terrific. I loved the way chapters alternated between Smith's childhood perspective, Serial killer Bob and Smith's shy friend Irene. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susie | 12/11/2013

    " I re-read this book recently and found it just as compelling as I did the first time. It is an exceptional memoir that blends personal history, true crime, and a portrait of autism - seamlessly. I wish I could write like Mary-Ann Tirone Smith. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carolyn | 12/9/2013

    " A memoir set in Hartford in the 1950s. A good read for locals, but also great storytelling about childhood. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christa Gruninger | 11/29/2013

    " One of the best memoirs I've ever read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pie | 11/29/2013

    " I loved this book. Many different compelling story lines - some funny - some tragic. Love a book that makes me laugh and cry. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Denise | 11/3/2013

    " This was not a book I would have picked up on my own but my neighbor lent it to me and said she liked it. I did find it interesting to read about Hartford, CT but I doubt that would have held me if it were not of local interest. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elisabeth | 8/29/2013

    " Not so interested in the abduction/murder part, but her description of place and era were what I really enjoyed. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah Christensen | 8/5/2013

    " I LOVED this book. I also tend to love memoirs. I especially liked reading about a Catholic family in the fifties...it helped me understand my mom and her generation better. In addition this author has a wonderful style, I found I couldn't put the book down! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David Bales | 7/12/2013

    " A very poignant and gripping memoir of a woman who grew up in Hartford, Connecticut with her "working stiff" parents, (Italian and French-Canadian) and their lives over generations, and the parallel life of a troubled man, culminating in one horrible night in December, 1953. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marie | 4/25/2013

    " An evocative memoir of growing up in the fifties. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lola | 4/15/2013

    " Excellent; Smith tells her story of growing up with an autistic brother, a disinterested mother, and the rape and murder of a childhood friend at age 7. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jwolfe5 | 10/22/2012

    " WOW! I really liked this, but it was an emotionally hard read. Again two stories both come together and the author does a great job handling the sensitive material involved. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Clare | 10/10/2012

    " This memoir reminded me of Lovely Bones. Good read - I like it enough to look up other books by the author. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Chelsea Decker | 9/24/2012

    " Interesting, but wouldn't recommend it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leslie | 12/29/2011

    " A scary, interesting story "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lynn | 7/5/2011

    " A memoir, a murder mystery, a psychopathic profile, all in one. I would actually give this one 3 and a half stars. Very readable. Two little girls growing up in the 1950's. One lives to tell about it. Compassionate and insightful. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kendra | 4/21/2011

    " I was really into memoirs for awhile. This is an amazing one. Still remember the story although I read it nearly 4 years ago. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Trudy | 2/4/2011

    " Gripping crime memoir, based on an actual case. Disturbing how long it took for a child molestor to be caught. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nancy | 2/2/2011

    " A thought-provoking memoir of how the world has changed "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lola | 1/19/2011

    " Excellent; Smith tells her story of growing up with an autistic brother, a disinterested mother, and the rape and murder of a childhood friend at age 7. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bobbi | 11/3/2010

    " Part memoir- part true crime. Wonderful read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathy | 9/21/2010

    " I loved this book! I laughed ,I cryed, I got angry.This book was truly a goodread ! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elisabeth | 9/17/2010

    " Not so interested in the abduction/murder part, but her description of place and era were what I really enjoyed. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kate | 6/1/2010

    " I liked the first 2/3 of this book, but then it gets a little slow. Definitely worth reading though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 5/10/2010

    " A very poignant and gripping memoir of a woman who grew up in Hartford, Connecticut with her "working stiff" parents, (Italian and French-Canadian) and their lives over generations, and the parallel life of a troubled man, culminating in one horrible night in December, 1953. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lzarrow | 4/28/2010

    " This book tells two parallel tales. I;ve read it twice and liked it better the second time! Set in New England. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vikki | 3/27/2010

    " This is a wonderful book! A lot about the art of writing. It is a memoir of growing up in a big French-Italian family. She has an autistic brother. The father eventually takes over total care of the brother. An interesting character is the mother-a golfer. "

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About the Author
Mary-Ann Tirone Smith is the author of four previous books, including The Book of Phoebe and Masters of Illusion. She lives in Connecticut.