Growing up in the American Midwest during the 1940's and 1950's, Sasha Davis experiences all that it means to be a beautiful girl. The novel begins with Sasha's travels in Europe while she contemplates separation from her patronizing scholar husband, and moves back and forth between her adult life in Manhattan and her recollections of childhood, high school, and college.
In intimate, vicious detail, Sasha describes the bullying behavior of Ohio schoolboys, her first clumsy, coerced sexual experiences, the criticism of other girls, her near-rape by an older co-worker, her passionate affair with a married philosophy professor, the trauma of sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, and failing marriages.
It is Sasha's own culturally-imposed obsession with appearing beautiful - and thus, desirable - to the men around her which the author says is the most tragic component in her destructive lifestyle.
This report prepared by Jacqueline West