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Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororitiesby Alexandra Robbins
"Robbins grapples with a terrific amount of research on Greek life, and the book that results is fascinating and, in the end, highly alarming. Pledged is amazing in the same way that reality TV is amazing: It's the car crash you can't take your eyes off of, it's the Jerry Springer episode where you have to find out if that midget chick is really a dude, it's the makeover show where you have to see what the drag-queen-looking freakshow that comes striding up to the mirror for her 'reveal' looks like now..." Sacha Zimmerman, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
Synopses & Reviews
Ever wonder what really goes on behind a sorority's closed doors?
New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Robbins became curious about whether the stereotypes of sororities were actually true, so she spent a year undercover with a group of girls in a typical sorority. The sororities' sordid behavior exceeded her worst expectations — drugs, psychological abuse, extreme promiscuity, racism, violence, and rampant eating disorders were just a few of the problems. But even more surprising was the fact that these abuses were inflicted and endured by intelligent, successful, and attractive young women.
Why is the desire to belong to a sorority so powerful that women are willing to engage in this type of behavior — especially when the women involved are supposed to be considered "sisters"? What does membership in these ritualistic groups truly require of a sister?
Robbins introduces us to Vicki, Sabrina, Caitlin, and Amy, sorority sisters who could each be the girl next door. As Robbins joins in their sorority life — from their giddy highs to their abysmal lows — she conveys the perspective of a sorority girl with the eyes of an outsider. Better than anyone else, Robbins understands what drives these young women and their friends — their passions and their fears. The result is an extraordinarily compelling narrative that reads like a bestselling novel.
With fly-on-the-wall voyeurism and remarkable insight, Pledged manages to both expose the dark side of sorority life and endear its participants to us.
"Robbins makes suggestions for reforming sororities — more adult supervision, ending pledging, etc. — although the demystification that comes from reading her front-line account may be the best prescription." Publishers Weekly
"Where the author really scores is in her analysis of why otherwise intelligent and sensitive women would sacrifice their independence, and often self-respect, for the sake of an artificially engineered secret society." Margaret Flanagan, Booklist
"Fascinating and eye-opening...Pledged is still a powerful warning and an astonishing slice of American life." Washington Monthly
"The narrative...is better than reality TV — it's riveting." Elle Girl
Book News Annotation:
Here we find lushes, trollops, bigots, sadists, masochists, anorexics, and those made mad by unrequited lust for election as Prom Queen. Journalist Robbins takes a novelistic approach as she joins the "sisters" of a real-life sorority to prove that all that has been said about their entrance standards, rituals, systems of judgment and punishment, over-the-top lifestyle, and lifelong loyalty is true. She follows the stories of several women who could be considered ambitious, attractive, and intelligent as they make choices based on unhealthy regard for themselves and others. The subtext here is that these women will go on to be business and civic leaders.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The author of Secrets of the Tomb offers a fast-paced, behind the scenes book that blows the lid off the intriguing world of mainstream sorority life.
Alexandra Robbins wanted to find out if the stereotypes about sorority girls were actually true, so she spent a year with a group of girls in a typical sorority. The sordid behavior of sorority girls exceeded her worst expectations-drugs, psychological abuse, extreme promiscuity, racism, violence, and rampant eating disorders are just a few of the problems. But even more surprising was the fact that these abuses were inflicted and endured by intelligent, successful, and attractive women. Why is the desire to belong to a sorority so powerful that women are willing to engage in this type of behavior-especially when the women involved are supposed to be considered 'sisters'? What definition of sisterhood do many women embrace? Pledged combines a sharp-eyed narrative with extensive reporting and the fly-on-the-wall voyeurism of reality shows to provide the answer.
About the Author
Alexandra Robbins, a contributing writer at Cosmopolitan and a former staff member of The New Yorker, is the author of Secrets of the Tomb and the coauthor of the New York Times bestselling Quarterlife Crisis. She appears regularly in the national media, on such shows as the Today show, Oprah, CNN's Daybreak, and the Early Show, and her work has appeared in publications including The New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, the Washington Post, USA Today, Self, and Mademoiselle. She lives outside Washington, D.C.
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