“Grosse Pointe Girl” is grossly disappointing

Becca Koch '22, Supervising Editor-at-Large

My entire life has been lived in Grosse Pointe. There’s a common joke that goes around here that people who live in Grosse Pointe never really leave. I’ve always laughed it off, but in actuality, it’s true. My mom was born and raised here and now lives only a few blocks from where she grew up. Of her high school friends, an astonishing amount remain in Grosse Pointe, sending their kids to the same schools they attended. Grosse Pointe is a bit of a constant, seeming to never change through the years. “Grosse Pointe Girl” by Sarah McCandless ’92 was a book I didn’t expect to relate to, but I found some similarities between my life and the authors. McCandless wrote about her experience growing up in Grosse Pointe in the 1980s-90s.
To preface this, I read an earlier edition of “Grosse Pointe Girl” than the one currently published. My copy was much shorter and found at the library. There were no newer copies easily available for me, and Google Books describes the newer copy as more narrative and storytelling. My reading was short, concise and matter of fact. The experience reading might be entirely different from the revised edition, so as you read, please keep that in mind.
I did not like this book at all to be honest. There were parts that I related to, like the general storytelling of how Grosse Pointe is, but other parts were much more jarring. I don’t want to sound like I was a perfect angel child who never said anything bad about someone else, but my copy of the book radiated mean-girl energy. The last section was focused entirely on McCandless’s experience doing lifeguard training at Lochmoor Country Club, where she exclusively referred to a girl as “the fat girl.” She was not outright taunting, but participating in a series of shunning activities towards her. I’m not naive enough to not believe this happens, but I wasn’t impressed with how openly she admitted to seeing a problem and recognizing it was wrong without doing anything about it.
Parts of it I related to very much, especially the vivid description of the War Memorial Dances. I was transported back to a stuffy ballroom with strobe lights and teenage boys who haven’t discovered yet that body spray is not a shower replacement. They were memories I had tried to put out of my mind, but now I know generations of middle schoolers have experienced the exact same thing. McCandless also touched on how many people in Grosse Pointe can be uppity and prejudiced. I don’t see the same amount as she described, but the behavior isn’t unfamiliar. In certain senses, it is an accurate portrayal of Grosse Pointe, in others it falls short.
Overall, I did not like this edition or the book. It gave me a little insight into how growing up in Grosse Pointe hasn’t changed over the years all that much, but it didn’t leave me with anything except some shame. I will be trying to find the second edition to see if it is any better.