From Publishers Weekly
This sequel to the controversial bestseller Odd Girl Out compiles pseudonymous accounts of bullying, backstabbing and other nastiness that girls say they have suffered or perpetrated on other girls, intercut with brief commentary from political scientist Simmons. Simmons argues that for "thousands of years, women have been barred from showing aggression," although feeling jealous, competitive or threatened are "natural, appropriate" responses to the world we live in. Furthermore, because "girls are taught that expressing anger directly is wrong, many girls (and women) have no choice but to resort to secret acts of meanness." Although there is nothing "secret" about most of the nastiness the girls in this book describe-they're very verbal in their abuse, very obvious and deliberate in their shunning of other girls-there are more fundamental problems with Simmons's model. Since she finds aggression universal, there's no need to look for the happy girls. She does not include accounts from kind young women, even though their insights into living a good life might be instructive. Still, this anthology's target audience is the girl in trouble, and Simmons has some decent advice: e.g., don't take offense right away, don't assume you have an exclusive relationship with anyone, don't try to IM (instant message) your way through a fight, don't accept a bad relationship, get involved in positive activities, be kind when ditching an old best friend, etc. It's not much different from what teen advice manuals have always offered, but some readers may find Simmons's presumption-of-wickedness approach more disarming than the conventional, presumption-of-goodness literature.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Sara Shandler's Ophelia Speaks
(1999) responded to Mary Pipher's watershed title Reviving Ophelia
(1994) with teens' own comments about the difficulties of growing up in a "girl poisoning" society. Now Simmons releases a collection of teens' words that builds on her own groundbreaking work, Odd Girl Out
(2002), about the secret culture of aggression among adolescent girls. In this collection, Simmons draws from her workshops with teens, offering anecdotes, poems, and letters written by teens as well as her own insightful commentary. The chapters are loosely organized and examine bullying from a variety of angles: the voices of the bully, the victim, and the not-so-innocent bystander all speak here. Simmons also explores the more subtle hurts that come from shifting friendships and simmering jealousies. A section about "finding your inner strength" closes the book on a hopeful note. Parents, teachers, and social workers will find this revealing, but the book's most obvious audience is the young adults who will find support, direction, and even a community in their peers' words. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved