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My Teenage Werewolf: A Mother, a Daughter, a Journey Through the Thicket of Adolescence Hardcover – August 5, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kessler, the author of five narrative nonfiction books, explores the mother/daughter relationship at a particularly vulnerable point—the cusp of her daughter's entry into adolescence. At 12, Lizzie is often at odds with her author mom, who describes her chilly relationship with her own mother. Not wanting to repeat a distant and dissatisfying relationship with her offspring, Kessler decides to dive into her daughter's world. She embeds herself in middle school, following Lizzie from class to class, probing her peer relationships, online pastimes and cyberfriends, athletic and summer camp life. She also immerses herself in current literature on the mother/daughter relationship and interviews a number of experts, including a female shaman/teen educator and a mental health counselor who plays on a roller derby team. While Lizzie goes along with her mother's role as a cultural anthropologist, she is often prone to hostility and random acts of meanness. But as Kessler digs deeper and begins to recognize her daughter's need for power over her own life and choices, this mother/daughter relationship ripens with compassion and mutual understanding. The author (also the mother of two boys) downplays the conflicts between mothers and teen males, convinced that the steps to the mother/daughter tango are far more complicated. Mothers of girls in particular will be alternately amused, horrified, and entertained as they view the turmoil and triumphs of adolescence from Kessler's insightful perspective. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"With grace and skill...Kessler writes with true fascination and appreciation for what her daughter is experiencing... With every description of epinephrine or serotonin, it is clear that she, too, is learning, keeping the passages accessible rather than didactic...Reading about Ms. Kessler's struggle and gradual catharsis will bring a sense of peace to the mothers of teen girls in realizing they are not alone. And for those of us who have been werewolves ourselves, reading about her journey will inspire new appreciation for those who put up with the snarling."
-Emily Fuggetta, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Straight from the trenches, a mom's tale of weathering her daughter's transformation from sweetheart to snark mouth."
-People

"Having the final word in an argument doesn't count for much when you're trying to help your daughter negotiate the bumps and blind curves in the road through adolescence...Lauren Kessler captures these debates and dilemmas with pitch- perfect humor and rue...[and] dives into a mountain of research and interviews with experts to understand how social structures, peer pressure, shifting societal norms and biological imperatives all affect teen behavior...My Teenage Werewolf is painfully funny, occasionally shocking, tender, maddening and wry. Ultimately, it's reassuring."
-Barbara Lloyd McMichael, Seattle Times

"Poignant...Enlightening...[Kessler] embeds herself in a world and writes about it as objectively as possible, Margaret Mead-style."
-Jamie Passaro, Eugene Register-Guard

"When best-selling nonfiction author Lauren Kessler turns upon her own household with the sharp eye and reporting skills of an embedded journalist, the life of an American teenager-of her American teenage daughter-becomes a window onto childhood, adulthood, and all the markers in-between. A child's precarious climb from immaturity to maturity, with the strong hand of a mother for balance, is illuminated here by a young woman who has given her mother access, and by the mother who has handled that access with respect, empathy, humor, and boundless love."
-Melissa Fay Greene, author of Praying for Sheetrock and There Is No Me Without You

"The astute, intrepid Lauren Kessler dives into the deep end of teenage culture in this witty, entertaining, and ultimately wise tale of surviving her feisty daughter's middle school years. Her book belongs on the nightstand of every parent, and everyone who thinks she may one day become a parent (they're not adorable babies forever, folks!)."
-Karen Karbo, author of The Gospel According to Coco Chanel and Motherhood Made a Man Out of Me

"Those of us who long identified as 'daughters' are suddenly on the other side of the divide: We are the mothers. Of teenage girls. Who are perpetually annoyed by us. What's more, their present dredges up our own past. Yet therein lies the opportunity for a better future-better relationships not only to our girls but to our own mothers and even to ourselves. I can think of no better guide through that process than Lauren Kessler, who reports from the front lines with wit, grit, insight-and truly impressive sangfroid."
-Peggy Orenstein, author of Waiting for Daisy and Flux

"...a hilarious and insightful read that's sure to resonate with any mom."
-Ladies' Home Journal

"Readers who live with Lizzies of their own will enjoy this glimpse into the adolescent brain, which is 'not yet open for the business of wise and measured living.'"
-More

"To find out what's up with teenage girls, Lauren Kessler goes where no mother has gone before -- like the girls' locker room in middle school. If you're battered by a daughter who's 10 times smarter and 100 times cooler than you are, this book could save your sanity. It turns out that that teen monster is still your little girl -- just don't let her know that you know it!"
-Barbara Ehrenreich, bestselling author of Bright-Sided, This Land Is Your Land, and Nickel and Dimed

"Few relationships are deeper, more fraught, and, when they go right, more blissful than the relationship between a mother and a daughter. But how do we traverse this sometimes rocky terrain? Intelligent, open-hearted and witty, Lauren Kessler's MY TEENAGE WEREWOLF supplies a map for mothers of teenage daughters everywhere."
-Peg Tyre, bestselling author of The Trouble With Boys
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (August 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670021695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670021697
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,475,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lauren Kessler (www.laurenkessler.com) is an award-winning author, (semi) fearless immersion reporter and self-designated guinea pig journalist who combines lively narrative with deep research to explore everything from the seemingly romantic but oh-go-gritty world of ballet (Raising the Barre: Big Dreams, False Starts and My Midlife Quest to Dance The Nutcracker) to the surprisingly vibrant world of those with Alzheimer's (Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer's). She has dived into the wild, wild west of the anti-aging movement (Counterclockwise: My Year of Hypnosis, Hormones, Dark Chocolate and Other Adventures in the World of Antiaging) and weathered the stormy seas of the mother-daughter relationship (My Teenage Werewolf).
Her books have been Washington Post and Los Angeles Times bestsellers, Wall Street Journal "best" selections, Pacific Northwest Book Award winners, and Oregon Book Award winners. She is a national speaker and workshop leader who has twice been a guest on the David Letterman Show.
Her journalism has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Times Magazine, O magazine, Ladies Home Journal, Prevention, Woman's Day, Utne Reader, The Nation, newsweek.com, and salon.com.
She is a Pacific Northwesterner (by choice not birth), a blogger, a back-country hiker, a long distance bike rider and -- as her long-suffering family knows well -- a quadruple Aries.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
You will appreciate the candor with which the author shares her experiences and insecurities, both as a mother and a daughter, and the light touch she has in including research material within the story of her daughter's last years of junior high school. With twin daughters on the cusp of pre-teenagerhood, this seemed like a must-read, and it didn't disappoint. I laughed, cried, cringed, learned a lot, and closed the book wanting more.
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Format: Hardcover
After following the journey of Lauren Kessler and Lizzie, how I wished that my mother had read this wonderful book when I was in middle school and had then passed it on to me to use as a guide when my own daughter and I began to navigate the perils of this period. Kessler's focus on what united her with Lizzie rather than on what separated the two them and her focus on empowering Lizzie rather than on controlling her provides parents with a primer that will assist them in learning how to connect with a daughter as she enters her teenage years.
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Format: Hardcover
A rich read and wild ride through that mother-daughter thicket with Lizzie and her mom. Hard to know at times who's driving whom more crazy, and with good reason. Kessler turns her meticulous, inquiring mind to her daughter's daily life and motivations, but doesn't spare herself the same vigorous inquisition. As Kessler notes in a reflective moment, one of the toughest things about having a daughter is "parsing out what are her issues and what are actually our own." That's life and the story Kessler tells so well. Comedy, drama and high adventure for moms and daughters of any age--and for the men who love them.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I do not have a daughter, but felt like I needed to call my mother and apologize for everything I put her through twenty years ago. The author details her efforts to understand and combat the fleeting and ever changing emotions of her teenage daughter. The book is enlightening, sad, funny and hard to put down. I will recommend this book to all of my friends with children or complicated relationships with their mothers. Everyone!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is so honest and insightful! It covers every topic I worry about with my pre-teen daughter! It is funny, charming and heartwarming! It is great to know I am not alone! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and it was also thought provoking. Great book!!!
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Format: Hardcover
Worried that she was losing touch with her teen daughter, author Lauren Kessler did what few moms would be willing to do: immerse herself in middle school classrooms, locker rooms and cafeterias, taking notes all the while to turn into a nonfiction book. The result, My Teenage Werewolf: A Mother, A Daughter, A Journey Through the Thicket of Adolescence, is a revealing work that will both concern and give hope to moms everywhere.

My Teenage Werewolf's universal appeal comes not only from Kessler's personal experience, but also from research and information offered up by experts regarding the world teen girls currently inhabit.

Kessler also reveals her own flaws and insecurities, and she doesn't elevate herself as the perfect mother who is trying to understand an imperfect daughter. Instead, through Kessler's experience with her daughter and from the details she reveals of her strained relationship with her own mother, we see a sincere struggle to understand the complicated mother-daughter dynamic.

Kessler's honesty, her wit, her insights, and her straightforward writing style combine to create a fascinating study of parenting today's female adolescent. I highly recommend it for any mother who has raised a teenage daughter, is raising one now, or knows that one is part of her future.
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Format: Hardcover
When I first picked up this book, I thought to myself: wow, what a bold way to ruin your relationship with your kid. But then I read it. Not only did I totally fall in love with Lizzie and Lauren, who are both smart, human, flawed, loving, brave people, but I learned some very basic (and surprisingly difficult) things about being a better person, a better family member: Be brave, be honest, respect each other, look your flaws and questions in the face. That's big stuff, and not limited to mother-daughter relationships. AND, never once did it feel cloying or preachy. This book is wise and funny and impressive, both in its skillful execution and its emotional depth. Brava!
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Format: Hardcover
I don't have a daughter, but I learned so much from this book: why the students I teach act the way they do, why my friends who are moms of teenage girls are so happy to come to work on some days, why it was ok that I didn't talk to my mother for most of my thirteenth year (slight exaggeration). Kessler's book about motherhood, daughterhood, and what binds the two together (and tears the two apart) is a terrific read and an engaging take on a subject that half the population has experienced at one time or another. At times I was laughing out loud, at other times I was welling up with tears: what else can you ask of a book?
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