'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 9 August 2012

Review: Girl! The Ultimate Guide to Being You

Sometimes life feels really complicated. Friendships, school stuff, all the things I care about, big changes happening in the world . . . but then I wonder what I can do, because I'm just one girl. - Ella, 13

Life is a rollercoaster for teens at the best of times, and with the world on fast forward, with a plethora of opportunity and choice and this overwhelming digital age and body issues and media and more competition to get ahead than ever before... well. Looking ahead at life ahead can be daunting.

Author Anna Barnes, a writer, playwright and researcher, has taken great pains to pen a book for tween and teen girls that will inspire, uplift and help clarify the journey ahead. Anna is currently a PhD candidate researching what role social media plays in the friendships of adolescent girls.

My own daughter has just turned twelve, so this book could not have come at a better time. Beautifully laid out and designed with gorgeous typesetting, line drawings and girl-attractive design elements, Girl! is broken into appealing chapters and snippets - focusing first on Your Life and moving through Your World, Your Planet and Your Future.

Your Life covers originality, self-stories, privacy, exercise, close friendships, bullying, anger, family, body image, fashion and more. The pages are peppered with clever 'distractions' like quizzes, letters and things to do, making this much less of a thickly-spread 'advice' tome and more of an interactive handbook that's as approachable as a BFF.

In Your World, the author covers life passion, gossip, human rights, socio-economic division, emigration, cultural pride, heroism and having a voice. In Your Planet, she covers such topics as climate change, food, waste, recycling, water, extinction and more.

In Your Future, the reader is left feeling very hopeful about taking the power into her own hands, and striding confidently into the future - a future she can create.

Being a young author herself, Anna uses a voice that will resonate with young girls. This book is philosophical without being preachy, detailed without being confusing, fresh without being boring.

It's the type of book I wish I'd had as a young girl - a girl who would hardly go to her parents to ask these questions or source this kind of information. Girls of this age are probably far more likely to secrete away a book and read it in their own time, like that secret diary they pour their heart and soul into.

This is a special book and I hope it reaches many. Goodness knows, this world needs even more empowered, courageous, aware and life-affirming girls. It's all I want for my daughter.

Title: Girl! The Ultimate Guide to Being You
Author: Anna Barnes
Illustrator: Catherine Campbell
Publisher: Puffin, $19.95 RRP
Publication Date: 2 July 2012
Format: Soft cover
For ages: 12+
Type: Non-Fiction