Wednesday 8 September 2010

Book review : A Girl's Guide to Life - Katie Meier

The blurb on the cover promises "The truth on growing up, being true and making your teen years fabulous !". Sophie has only just turned nine so she's still a bit too young for this book but, as the old cliché says, kids grow up so quickly these days and I know she's already worried about things that never even crossed my mind when I was her age, like watching her weight, worrying about the fine blonde hairs on her legs and, yes, you've guessed it ... boys ! I tend to smile and not really take her concerns all that seriously but just before the school holidays, I had a bit of rethink when I discovered that one of the 12-year-old girls in my class at school had had a miscarriage after falling pregnant by her 14-year-old boyfriend. I was shocked rigid that she was only three years older than Sophie who I still consider very much a little girl. So when the opportunity came up to review this book, I jumped at the chance !

The book is aimed at teenagers and I find that it adopts just the right tone. It's reassuring but fun, more like the voice of a big sister or older best friend than a mum or teacher. It tackles such thorny issues as "Why do boys act so weird ? Why am I so emotional ? And what's with these huge zits ?!?!". I smiled to myself as I flicked through but I remember how earth-shatteringly important things like this seemed at the time.

What I really like are the "big myths" that are frequently listed, followed by "the real deal", because they really are things that girls often hear and believe or questions they want to ask but don't dare. Most of the "girls' stuff" that is dealt with are things that most mums could probably explain adequately to their daughters but I can see this book being an absolute lifesaver for single dads ! I also love the section on "the digital you", explaining things like texting, sexting and Facebook/MySpace that most parents probably haven't got the foggiest idea about !

One thing that most European readers (and their parents) will probably find off-putting is the number or religious references. The book is categorised as "Juvenile non-fiction/social issues/dating & sex" but, coming from a Christian publisher, I was actually quite expecting this. Our family is not at all religious but I still like to give the kids some basic religious education so that they can make their own choices later. I was therefore happy to see a chapter about faith and religion, but did feel put off by the continuous references to religious beliefs and passages from the Bible in other chapters dealing with subjects such as self-esteem and beauty, for example.

The book is aimed at an American market so, alongside the religious aspect, European teens may not identify so easily with stories of proms, US TV shows or aiming for Harvard. It's nevertheless a very useful guide to teen life that will appeal to most girls as they make their journey into womanhood, especially as the little tests and quizzes make them really think about who they are and who they want to be.

star rating : 3.5/5

RRP : £8.99

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