If you're someone who opens a book to read the last chapter first, you won't be disappointed by what you find in Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children Through Early Adolescence.
The final chapter, "Some Concluding Thoughts," offers sharp insights into the early adolescent years. "Early adolescence is partly about loss," writes author Laura Sessions Stepp. "Parents lose their children's unquestioning adoration; kids lose their innocence, and sometimes their faith in adults." She adds observations on a wide variety of topics--communication, respect, responsibility, and the influence of other adults--that can be used as a road map for parents trying to help their children navigate these years with success.
If you're looking for a book based solely on academic research and written by an expert, this one may not satisfy. However, Sessions Stepp, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Washington Post, uses her keen observation and interviewing skills to uncover the world of today's young adolescents. After two years of conducting numerous in-depth interviews and extensive research into current developmental theory, she seamlessly combines the two in a book that is both engaging and authoritative. One of the most important points Stepp makes is in regard to the rapidity of growth--emotional, physical, and intellectual--that young adolescents undergo. She writes of recent research, "I was fascinated to be told that adolescence is a time of growth and change rivaling infancy in its speed and accomplishments." This relatively recent revelation gives an urgency to her argument that adolescence is "our last best shot" at helping kids grow into successful adults. Considering the value and likeability of this often overlooked age group, Stepp's wisdom and insights will benefit anyone who cares about and works with young adolescents. Our Last Best Shot is an opportunity to look at today's teens in a new light and see futures filled with hope and possibility. --Virginia Smyth
From Publishers Weekly
In the recent tradition of Reviving Ophelia and Raising Cain, Stepp offers an extraordinary look into the lives of children aged 10-15, with a bounty of commonsense advice on how to ensure that they blossom and thrive during the crucial prelude to adulthood. Stepp, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Washington Post, presents 12 case studies of actual boys and girls, along with their families, friends and teachers, with whom she lived over the course of a year. Coming from a variety of backgroundsAincluding urban Los Angeles, Durham, N.C., and the small farming community of Ulysses, Kans.Athese children are all trying to figure out answers to such questions as: "What kind of person am I?"; "What am I learning?"; "How do I fit in with friends?"; and "How can I create distance from adults yet remain connected to them?" Drawing on unlimited access to these somewhat troubled yet likeable kids, Stepp writes of their lives with remarkable understanding and compassion, vividly reporting on, for example, Chip's marijuana deal, Jack's joy in single-handedly constructing a birdhouse when left alone one day and Libby's frank conversation about oral sex with her girlfriends at the mall. These encounters illustrate the many valuable lessons Stepp offers parents: give kids responsibility, be aware of their friends, give them space, manage your fears, stay engaged. Agent, ICM. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.