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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Our Last Best Shot, June 23, 2000
By 
Lorin Buck (Northern Virginia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children Through Early Adolescence (Hardcover)
This book is a must-read for parents of children approaching adolescence and for those in the throws of it, as well as teachers, grandparents, clergy, and others who come in contact with kids ages 10 to 15. By sharing her thoughtful, well-researched insights, Laura Sessions Stepp is able to help demystify what is often a difficult passage for both parents and teens.
As the mother of three boys, 12, 15, and 17, I found this book enormously reassuring. By talking intimately with young teens and their families and friends, Ms. Stepp found that despite the pressures and challenges to succeed, fit in, and experiment with independence, teens still want what they've always wanted: to be loved and accepted while they discover who they are. As a corollary to this, Ms. Stepp assures parents that the role they play is still crucial even as it changes, that their relationship with their teens is all-important even as it transforms.
We all know "it takes a village," but often we're not sure exactly what that means. At the end of each part of her book, Ms. Stepp lists several things "As Parents We Can..." do to encourage our teens in their growth and development, and involve other positive role models in their lives. These tips are distilled from the chapters that precede them, chapters that illustrate WHY it's important to act on this guidance.
"Our Last Best Shot" gracefully blends true-life stories with documented scientific research to give us a better understanding of all the influences at work in a teen's mind, from hormones to peer pressure. We get a detailed picture of the young teen that rivals all we know about infancy.
The writing is clear, frank, and best of all, positive. We hear so much about the effects of divorce, teenage pregnancy, learning disabilities, overcrowded schools, alcohol and drugs, guns and violence, AIDS, and all the rest. It's refreshing to hear a sensible, rational voice that says, "Stop. Wait. Most teens are great kids, and we can help them become even better."
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book about frequently overlooked topic, April 16, 2001
This review is from: Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children Through Early Adolescence (Hardcover)
When my children were babies and toddlers, I found overwhelming amounts of information about their needs and care-- magazines, books, TV shows. Now that they are 15 and 9, I can't find much worth reading to help me with their needs. I found that this book was very helpful. The author interviewed many teenagers and profiled 12 of them in this book. The book is an interesting glimpse into their lives, and the lives of their families, and the unique problems they each face. Although this is not a "self-help" book, with prescriptions for how to solve the problems parents face, the final chapter summarizes the author's findings from the interviews and gives advice to parents. This summary should be copied and posted where every parent of a teenager will see it frequently because it's a very complete summary of things that teenagers need from their parents.
I am also starting to work my way through the books listed in the bibliography. It appears to be a great resource for further reading about adolescents.
Finally, I wanted to explain the reason I awarded only 4 stars. I felt that the book focussed too much on teenagers who have some kind of "problem": poverty, drugs, neglect, etc. Although the book was useful for all parents of older children and teens, I think it would have been better for me if there had been a few more middle-class kids who are doing well in school in the book. That's the kind of kids that I am dealing with, and they still have problems. I suspect that's the kind of kid a lot of... customers are raising too.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent parenting & general knowlege about pre-teens, July 12, 2000
This review is from: Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children Through Early Adolescence (Hardcover)
As the crisis counselor in a public high school and middle school I found this book to share great insights as to what works and what doesn't with this age group. It is presented in laymans terms and easily captures the readers interest. There is so little written information on pre-adolescents and the battles they face. I'd love to see a follow up on the kids the author profiled in about 10 years. Anyone that works with or has middle school age children must read this book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Powerful Book, August 16, 2000
This review is from: Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children Through Early Adolescence (Hardcover)
I am neither a parent nor a teacher, but I found this well-written, insightful book eye-opening.I bought it as a "suggested reading" gift for the parents of a young girl I have been mentoring, but could not put it down after reading the introduction! Ms. Stepp's intermingling of real life examples with research from the experts revealed so many things that a non-parent can do to change the world by helping children navigate early adolescence. Her inclusion of African American children among her subjects, and her sensitive treatment of the special problems their lives present brought her book home for me.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really Excellent Book, June 25, 2002
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I felt like I was reading "MY Last Best Shot" as I read through this book. I have three sons, ages 10, 12, & 13, and this book was lent to me by my middle son's teacher. I liked it so much I bought my own copy. Every chapter opened my eyes to something else I didn't know about or have not been doing with my sons. I strongly recommend this book to anyone with children near or at the pre-teen age level, particularly parents who find most parenting books boring, patronizing or unrealistic.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The challange of guiding our early adlolescents, April 8, 2001
By 
David E. Levine (Peekskill , NY USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children Through Early Adolescence (Hardcover)
The author extensively interviewed and spent massive amounts of time with each of 12 middle schoolers and early high schoolers in LA. Durham, NC, and a small town in Kansas. We get deeply into the lives of these youngsters and their families. We share everything from their triumphs to their getting into very serious trouble (one was suspended from school for a year for bringing an unloaded gun to school). What we learn is that this age group is one in which kids start to assert some independence and both teachers and parents have to give up some control. Stepp puts it well .. we must let kids climb the mountain but still retain enough control to keep them away from the edge of the cliff. Kids this age must believe that we are listening to them and care about what they have to say. Kids need good role models including adults other than their parents. This age group is so crucial to a child's development. The need for more independence is so important yet the dangers of serious mistakes is ever present. What I like about this book is that Stepp makes her observations and offers insights and comments without inserting an excessive amount of ideology. Msny books of this genre have political agendas, both feminist and conservative, This book steers clear of such agendi. This book is important reading for both parents and teachers. I recommend it.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb and Unpretentious, January 3, 2001
By 
W. E. Fleming (Washington, DC USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children Through Early Adolescence (Hardcover)
For Christmas 2000, I only requested a few gifts. Besides paper white bulbs and a red matte lipstick, I wanted this book. As a parent of younger children and a youth development consultant and writer, I had committed to reading it in the New Year!
I read Last Best Shot in less than 2 days and enjoyed it immensely. In 12 profiles of young adolescents, the author touches on the turbulence but wonderful promise of young teens. She cuts through all the theoretical jargon with an amazingly graceful writing style. This is its finest strength---to communicate what experts in the field know about youth development in engaging storytelling profiles. This makes it a wonderful read for anyone, with children or without.
Beautifully insightful, and at times poignant, the private look into the lives of these children gives you the freedom to draw many of your own conclusions. It is also extremely refreshing to see children from many backgrounds portrayed--Children of married families, divorced ones, white, city, rural, Hispanic and African American. My only wish is that we will see a followup. What will happen to all these children in three or four years?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hard look at adolescents, but a must read, February 15, 2002
By 
Frances D. Granatino (Malvern, PA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children Through Early Adolescence (Hardcover)
As a mother of a 14 year old child, I was so grateful to read that my vision was comparable to the author's. This book is all about provisioning up your child. It is easy to love a baby, unconditionally, but much harder when your child is in the teenage years and ready to challenge you. I liked the subtle messages that the author sent - give your child chores to do, give them a sense of self, love them unconditionally, and most of all, be a part of their lives. My heart went out to the children in this book who, in my estimation, are not going to make it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy engrossing reading, September 18, 2002
By 
M. Rader "tricityrader" (Richland, WA United States) - See all my reviews
While waiting for clients to show up to see a house, I picked up this book and started reading. Having a new middle schooler, I found that I could not put this down because I could see him in so many of the situations. As soon as I got home, I went on-line and ordered it right away. I will be reading every page of this book. Very engrossing. You feel that you know each individual as you read about them. Also easy reading. As the mother of a three year old, I have many interuptions and it is nice to have a book that can be read in short spurts. This is a must read for anyone with children entering into those adolescent years!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EVERYONE should read this book!, June 17, 2005
By 
Figaro "figaro8895" (N Richland Hills, TX) - See all my reviews
Parents, Educators, Youth and Child Workers, Legislators, etc., would benefit greatly from the wisdom in this book. This tells what is on kids' minds today, danger signals, prevention, communication, friendships. This book tells why it is important to educate children about sex, to not "micro-manage" children in school, how standardized testing fails our children, the value of healthy/mentoring adult friendships, and the critical task of setting examples for children in our behaviors - acting like adults, responsibility, discovery, and relationships in particular.

This book is incredibly well-organized and well-written on top of all the valuable information it imparts.
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Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children Through Early Adolescence
Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children Through Early Adolescence by Laura Sessions Stepp (Hardcover - June 19, 2000)
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