Customer Review

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for parents!, 16 May 2006
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This review is from: Queen Bees And Wannabes: Helping your daughter survive cliques, gossip, boyfriends & the new realities of Girl World: Helping Your Daughter Survive ... Boyfriends and Other Realities of Adolescence (Paperback)
A stunning book. It's very rare for US advice books to be relevant to British society, but this one is not at all culturally specific. No American peculiarities (evangelism, no sex before marriage, cheerleading) are mentioned - just excellent, straightforward information about what really goes on in teenage girls' friendships, and advice on how to help your daughter overcome the problems of cliquiness. It all rings incredibly true: as you read through the social categories Wiseman identifies (Queen Bee, Messenger, Target) you find yourself thinking, "I knew that girl!" and analysing how your own secondary school peer group fitted into these patterns. This makes it fascinating reading even for those without children, as genuine insight is provided into how girls think. I learnt a lot about myself by reading this book, which was unexpected!

Wiseman's due particular credit for not just writing about rich white popular girls, as films on this subject have depicted ('Thirteen', 'Mean Girls'). She looks at social class, ethnicity and homosexuality, not being judgemental about any of these but outlining the specific issues girls in these groups face, while emphasising her overall point that most teenage girl friendship groups follow the same sorts of patterns. After all, all girls are having to find their identities within impossible cultural models of ideal femininity, which demand that she is sexy but not slutty, confident yet not threatening to men. Wiseman's particularly good (and even-handed) at assessing the social pressures teenage boys are under, and why this can lead them to treat girls badly so as to seem manly. Show this section to your daughter, because it explains a lot! Throughout the book, no excuses are made, just advice on how to have proper, supportive conversations with your daughter and help her find ways of dealing with peer pressure. I wish my mum (and I) had read this when I was 14 - that says it all, really.

Some parents might be shocked: this book doesn't pull any punches. If your daughter's being the ringleader of mean behaviour, Wiseman insists you deal with it, and likewise if your parenting's not up to scratch. She also doesn't flinch from addressing the darkest side of teenage relationships, namely abusive boyfriends and date rape. It's upsetting reading, to be sure, but this stuff does go on and parents have got to be aware. While never doom-mongering, nonetheless it's a shame the author didn't conclude by saying that most teenage girls do come through their teenage years fairly unscathed and well-adjusted. With parents who read this book and make an effort to do what is says - communicate with your daughter! - I reckon this happy outcome is made considerably more likely.
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