Ophelia Speaks: Adolescent Girls Write About Their Search for Self

 
9781435276888: Ophelia Speaks: Adolescent Girls Write About Their Search for Self
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Sara Shandler creates an atmosphere for young girls, between the ages of 12 to 18, to speak frankly about the myriad of issues encountered as they try to leave adolescence behind them and emerge as young women. The author's own personal reflections are interwoven throughout the writings of a diverse group of teenage girls, which include poems, essays and comments.

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Review:

Ophelia Speaks by Sara Shandler is a clever response to Mary Pipher's bestselling Reviving Ophelia. Shandler reveals telling portraits of teenage girls in this book, a compilation of essays, poems, and true-grit commentary from a cross section of teenage girls (or Ophelias), throughout the country. The book succeeds because it gives voice to their deepest concerns and their too-often frenzied lives. Because she's a college student, Shandler considers herself a peer of these adolescent girls, able to tap into their collective consciousness.

Shandler is as determined as she is a sharp reporter in chronicling the lives of these young women. To research the book, she sent out a mass mailing of 7,000 letters to high school and junior high school principals, counselors, and teachers explaining her book project and urging them to encourage teenage girls to contribute.

The topics covered run the gamut, but they include parental expectations, racial relations, and faith, among others. Sadly, eating disorders are an all-too-popular topic. The good news is that Shandler's contributors offer up some real insight for their peers. In one essay titled "Food Is Not My Enemy," Elizabeth Fales "calls us to a new feminism. In the old feminism, our mothers fought for the right to choose abortion. In our generation, we must fight for the right to eat."

The book also gives practical insight for parents who may find it hard to relate to their teenage daughters. In a nutshell, it appears that adolescent girls want unconditional love from parents who can be confidants without being overly critical. --Peg Melnick

About the Author:

Sara Shandler is currently a student at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. A former president of the Connecticut Valley Region of B'nai B'rith Youth Organization, she has led, represented, and influenced large numbers of adolescent girls. She is a native of Amherst, Massachusetts.

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