Reunion: The Girls We Used to Be, the Women We Became

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9780679449836: Reunion: The Girls We Used to Be, the Women We Became

"It was from my curiosity about the gap between childhood dreams and midlife realities, between youthful promise and womanly fulfillment, that the idea for this book was conceived. Raised to believe they were among their generation's best and brightest, my class can be seen as a bellwether for a generation caught without a compass on the cutting edge of uncharted territory. After graduation they faced an explosion of choices unimaginable when they were schoolgirls. Each graduate, willing or no, prepared or not, would become a pioneer trying to discover her path on roads that were not yet on anybody's map. Their choices energized and empowered some, stymied or sidelined others. I began this book to find out why."
In Reunion, Elizabeth Fishel interweaves the story of the Brearley School class of 1968 with the history of a generation of American women born into tradition in the 1950s and engulfed by radical politics and social change in the 1960s and 1970s.
        Beginning at the twenty-fifth reunion of her class, Fishel traces the lives of ten of her classmates at one of the nation's oldest and most renowned girls' schools. Nineteen sixty-eight was a watershed year--a year Time magazine said "shaped a generation"--and Reunion explores how each of that year's bright, privileged, famously situated, but often emotionally struggling graduates coped with the social upheavals of the sixties and the decades beyond.

Reunion looks at the contradictions in the lives of young women born into a traditional world of nonworking mothers and propelled into an environment of feminism, sexual liberation, and political radicalism. Fishel explores what happened to her classmates, particularly behind closed doors, to discover why so many women from her class didn't fare as well in life as women who graduated only five years later.

Filled with moving anecdotes, important life lessons, and revelations, Reunion is a powerful story of the women at one of America's top schools, as well as a history of an in-between generation.

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Review:

Journalist Elizabeth Fishel profiles 10 of her classmates from the class of 1968 at Manhattan's elite Brearley School, interweaving her own story with theirs to consider the choices they made in a period of wrenching social change. Raised in a privileged society where roles and rules for women were clear, these Brearley girls found after high school that none of the rules applied. Responses to this chaotic new world included dropping out of college, delaying marriage, bouncing from job to job, and having fewer children than their mothers (or none at all). Fishel finds her group more confused than her sister's generation, only five years younger, who could "assimilate the clash of cultures much more gradually" and who in her view managed the juggling act of career and motherhood with greater ease. Reunion also makes an interesting contrast with Miriam Horn's Rebels in White Gloves, a similar study of Wellesley College's 1969 graduates, who also seem more solidly grounded than Fishel's friends. Despite a tendency to overschematize (her categories of "untraditional traditionalist, unconventional career-tracker, seeker, and juggler" aren't especially illuminating), Fishel depicts with appealing sympathy a group of women whose winding paths toward maturity convince her "that being comfortable with change is the most important skill to develop early." --Wendy Smith

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Praise for Sisters

"        Sharp, timely, candid and articulate. . . . Fishel has provided not only some insight into sisterhood itself, but also an attractive portrait of the submissive and willful, tender and callous, loving and hating, perceptive and self-centered, intelligent and exciting women of America today."
--Los Angeles Times

"        Fishel's interviews are colorful and her biographies detailed. And the book has a personal feel, a quality of pervasive wonder."

--Boston Globe
Praise for I Swore I'd Never Do That!

"        An intriguing look into the universe of the family. Fishel charts the extremely rocky road which leads us from being someone's child to being someone's parent with humor, warmth and sensitivity."


----Alice Hoffman

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