Ophelia Speaks Review

Ophelia Speaks
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Ophelia Speaks is a literary response to Mary Pipher's bestselling and sometimes controversial work Reviving Ophelia which was published in 1994. In this book psychologist Pipher, who works closely with adolescent girls, documented what she thought were the key issues and struggles for teenage females growing up in America. She did this through cases studies and careful analysis. Author Sara Shandler, a high school student at the time, took it upon herself to recruit girls from all over the United States to write about all aspects of being young and female. She was not opposed to Mary Pipher's work. In fact, it spoke to her positively in many ways. She just thought it would be a good idea for girls to speak for themselves. The result is Ophelia Speaks, a collection of essays on a variety of topics that girls chose to write about...family, friends, diseases, sexuality, death, depression, religion and others. The book is excellent in two regards. First, the stories often take you deep into the heart and mind of adolescent girls. You are struck by how insightful and analytical theses girls are, then thrown back by how fragile and complex their feelings are. The stories, picked by Sara Shandler, are well-written and sincere although a few of them were written in the abstract and therefore lacked the clarity to fully understand the issue at hand. The second part of the book I found to be outstanding were the introductions to each topic. These were written by Sara Shandler herself. They gave perspective on the topic in question and introduced each contribution by giving the reader a taste of what was in store. She also adds a little of her own experience so you get to know her a bit. My life revolves around coaching teenage girls in basketball. I also coach young girls in basketball. A book like this adds to my understanding of teenage girls and therefore helps me work with them more effectively. One of the things Shandler says in the introduction is that teenage " girls are incredibly complicated. " When you read the stories and begin to understand this, I believe it lends itself to patience and understanding. But the book's greatest value probably lies in the support adolescent girls can feel from reading these stories. These girls do not hold anything back and many of their reactions to life's experiences are probably universally felt by a lot of teenage girls. Any teenage girl who is feeling isolated or finding life to be difficult would probably benefit from reading this book. I highly recommend it.

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