Saturday, September 4, 2010

Book Review: Girl's Guide To Life

Why did I choose to review this book?

My daughters are currently 6 and 20 months, not really the age group this book is aimed at. I am, however, trying to prepare myself and collect resources to help them prepare themselves for that murky time of life called PUBERTY! When I saw this book on Book Sneeze, I asked them to send it to me (for free) to review for them. And being such nice people, the did!

What do I like about this book?

I like the fact that this book takes time to explain the "nuts and bolts" of sexual development. It uses simple but precise language designed to inform without embarrassing. I also liked the fact that this book devotes a chapter to "cyber-self". It discuses various pros and cons of online life and gives some very good tips about being one's "authentic" self online, dealing with online bullying and gossip and being security conscious online. All very necessary things for a young lady growing up in today's society to think about. I applaud the author for trying to deal with some very real issues in today's society and prepare young ladies for adulthood in a Biblicaly conscious manner.

What don't I like about this book?

The general tone of this book becomes a little cheesy at times. Every now and then I felt like the author was trying to be the "cool youth group leader" who wears 'young' clothes and tries to talk hip - not realising much of the language they use just serves to point out just how out of touch they are. Kids can spot in-authenticity a mile off and there are many moments in this book where the author tries to be just that little bit TOO cool.

This books takes it for granted that the reader will be savvy with today's pop culture and familiar with the world of reality television programs like "The Bachelor". For one thing, I think this will serve to date this book very quickly meaning that my daughters are unlikely to be interested when it is relevant to them. For another thing, while I enjoy TV in small doses and we own more than one, there is no way I would be allowing my daughters to regularly watch The Bachelor. I don't see myself as ultra conservative and, while a little prudish at times, I am not extreme. The only reason we would watch The Bachelor is to discuss and analyse it and I can tell you now it doesn't survive such analysis very well! I would like to see a Christian book of this nature teaching young girls to evaluate their viewing choices a little better.

Perhaps my biggest criticism of this book is it's treatment of romance and behaviour toward the opposite sex. The option of courtship is discussed in the "romance" chapter and readers who want to know more about this option are referred to "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" by Josh Harris. For the majority of the book, however, the writer assumes that the reader will have or has had or does have a "crush" and/or boyfriend. In a world where teen girls who do not have a boyfriend (through choice or otherwise) are encouraged to obsess about this or made to feel freakish, I wonder if this adds fuel to the fire.

Flirting is also described as "harmless". The author does not take the time to define exactly what she means by flirting, but my definition is this: Making a promise with your lips that your body does not intend to keep. I have a feeling that the author and I are talking about two very different things when we say flirting, but as she never defines this very loose word we have to be at least a little concerned about what kind of license this will give to girls. The book also gives little attention to being careful and gentle with the hearts of young men. This, combined with the comments about flirting, does little to prevent a young reader from unwittingly becoming or continuing to be a tease. Modesty in behaviour and dress, sending CLEAR signals to young men and basic respect for the hearts of others are SUCH important traits for young ladies to learn and with few lessons available "out there" I feel we need to grab every chance to teach them.

I would also have liked to have seen a greater exploration of abuse within romantic relationships. Dealing with subjects such as physical abuse, emotional abuse, mental abuse and sexual pressure within relationships requires a little more than this particular book devotes to those subjects. Given that abuse within teenage relationships is frighteningly common, I feel it was important to address these issues in depth.

I'm afraid that the positives of this book, for me, do not outweigh the negatives.

I will not be using this book with the girl cubs. In spite of good intentions, it does not quite do the job for me.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


  1. You might find my blog of interest where I critique Josh Harris's book.
    I Kissed Dating Goodbye: Wisdom or Foolishness?

    Unfortunately Josh Harris is quick to point out the problems with dating but reluctant to share any of the problems with his approach.

    Hope this helps.

  2. Hi Steve, thanks for the comment.

    My reference to courtship and Josh Harris shouldn't be taken as an endorsement (or otherwise) of courtship and/or Harris' books. I was simply commenting that the author of this book, A Girl's Guide To Life, does give ONE alternative to recreational dating a mention and refers to that book before assuming for the large part that the reader will or will wish to engage in recreational dating. Many teen years are spent largely single and usually obsessing about "crushes" or fretting about their single status. I'm afraid I look back on 'crushes' and regret the waste of time and energy!

    Regardless of what dating/courtship model my daughters choose I hope and pray that they use their single years to God's glory and to develop themselves as individuals rather than feeling pressured. The pros and cons of different models will be something we weigh together, but ultimately they will make their choice. This post was intended to be my review of this book rather than a statement of my position on these matters.

    Hope that helps! :)