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Coming of Age focuses on five years in Meadís young life when she began to question the traditional attitudes toward sex, courtship and marriage that dominated the early 20th century.
The story begins in 1921, when Mead is a young woman of twenty and a student at Barnard College in New York City. Conventional enough to accept the role society has handed to her, and defiant enough to rise up against it, she struggles to find her own path. Life begins to change as she experiences new friendships and many firsts, including marriage and an affair.
In 1925, following her interest in anthropology, Mead takes a step that shocks both family and colleagues. She decides to go alone to Samoa to study how girls in this very different culture mature into women. There on a tiny island in the South Pacific, with an ocean between her and the people she loves, she begins to understand how the invisible chains of society can imprison oneís body and mind.
Meadís voyage of self-discovery is both painful, exciting and enlightening. She returns from her fieldwork ready to do something no woman before her has dared to do: write with frankness and clarity about the sexual awakening of young girls. And America, it turns out, is ready to hear what she has to say.
Drawing on letters, diaries and memoirs, Blum reconstructs the colorful and dramatic life of one of the most provocative thinkers of the 20th century.