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Supergirls Speak Out: Inside the Secret Crisis of Overachieving Girls Paperback – March 3, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Original edition (March 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 141656263X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416562634
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,693,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

First-time author Funk defines the term "supergirl" as an over-achieving young woman with a compulsive need to be the best in all areas: school, extra-curricular activities, social networking and, of course, physical appearance. As she and her fellows are discovering, however, the pressure of such all-encompassing ambition can result in exhaustion, eating disorders, emotional problems and screwed up priorities. One of Funk's 100-plus interviewees bemoans that "'when you Google me, nothing comes up. I need to have Google prowess'"; for herself, Funk confesses her chagrin over publishing her first book (this one) at the age of 20 instead of 18. Though such a young writer can't possibly tackle the complex state of 21st century feminism without reading (at the least) precocious, freelance writer Funk has done her research, and her writing is lucid and intelligent. A good deal of unnecessary ranting could have been cut, and brand name fatigue sets in early (one hopes Funk is getting kickbacks from Starbucks). Still, Funk provides some fresh insights, especially for a younger audience brought up on The Devil Wears Prada and the myth of workplace gender equality, encouraging self-awareness, reasonable priorities, and a healthy outlook.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Like Sara Shandler’s Ophelia Speaks (1999), this title, written by a 19-year-old undergraduate, offers an insider’s view of what it means to be a high-achieving young woman in today’s society. In loosely organized chapters, Funk defines today’s “Supergirls,” who hold themselves to impossible standards, and she explores how typical Supergirl traits play out in young women’s lives at school, at work, in friendships, at home, and in their relationships with men. More information about how Funk researched and gathered the quotes and profiles that fill the heavily anecdotal text would have been welcome, and Funk’s youth and inexperience are clear in the somewhat disorganized, highly repetitive text. Still, the subjects’ frequently echoed frustrations powerfully underscore the book’s clear, cautionary message: young women, facing pressures to succeed at all costs from society, their families, and themselves, are pushing themselves to the breaking point. A few suggestions for change close the book, but it is the honest, urgent, intimate voices, including Funk’s own, that will stay with readers. --Gillian Engberg

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Customer Reviews

It's fun, enjoyable, insightful and an all around amazing read.
Like any new author, Funk does have some room to grow with style and maybe branching out to different types of writing would be interesting to see.
K. Oczypok
Many of these "Supergirls" are just really successful people who DO need to "stop and smell the roses," as Funk would say.
L. Rau

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By picky reader on October 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
I'll write a proper review when I feel like being in a really bad mood by reliving this book. As another reviewer wrote, I and many, many of my friends are considered perfectionist, overachieving women, but this book just isn't for or about us. The author makes sweeping generalizations and says, over and over (usually implicitly, but sometimes explicitly) that only very privileged women can be "supergirls." She says in interviews that this is not true, but her book says otherwise. (She specifically says that low-income immigrants, girls with acne, and girls who don't visit tanning salons CANNOT be supergirls, for example - and that's just the start.) I guess it shouldn't surprise me that the author paints supergirls only in terms of her own experiences, and only interviews others with nearly identical experiences. I also can't understand how the author is minoring in Women's Studies, because so much of it seems blatantly sexist and lacking the insight I've found in even introductory gender studies classes - there is certainly no concept of intersectional feminism in this book, and the author makes no room for dissenting voices on topics as basic as female sexuality. (According to Funk, only men can enjoy casual sex, but women cannot, and yes, Funk can speak for ALL women. And that's feminist how...?)

The editing is sloppy, and although there are a few places where Liz Funk absolutely shines, she pisses me off too often to redeem herself. I have hesitated to publicly write anything negative about this book, because the author herself has published articles on how wrong and mean it is to criticize a writer online - but I feel like this book deals with such an important topic so poorly that I can't be silent, plus, hey, I love talking about literature.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By lalydia on April 4, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is rushed, superficial and slight. Funk says proudly she managed to get this published by the time she was 20--she should have waited a few years, revised it considerably, and written something much deeper and better thought out.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By L. Rau on March 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
I snatched this title off the shelf at Border's and shelled out the 15 bucks for it, salivating with excitement to read a collection of stories about women like me, who have sacrificed peace of mind for over-achievements. I, too, have been trying to relax my over-competitiveness and perfectionism "on paper" as I enter my mid-twenties. I was a bit miffed at the pink, girly cover, since not all women are hyper feminine, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she just really likes the color. I was a bit weary that the author's scope may be limited to privileged, upper-middle class, white "good girls," but I thought, surely a book about overachieving women wouldn't be anything like chick lit.

Boy, was I wrong.

Within the first few pages, I had to remind myself that the author was only 19 at the time of writing it, so perhaps she didn't have the most developed perspective on the "Supegirls" issue. Perhaps I misunderstood her definition of "Supergirls." She gets one thing right: that people need to learn to enjoy their lives and not succumb to society's pressures to be perfect. A good lesson for anyone. However, when she began overgeneralizing "Supergirls" as needing to juggle perfect social calendars and being seen at all the right club scenes, I flipped. This is ridiculous. Never have I met a true, over-achieving "Supergirl" who would ever waste her time primping for the male gaze and bar-hopping or wasting a night on the town. True "Supergirls" would be embarrassed to be seen at such vapid venues.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on August 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
What is a Supergirl?

They're the high school class president with the constantly shiny hair who applied to over twenty Ivy League schools and always brings homemade goods to every bake sale. They're the college girl involved in a million clubs who shows up five minutes before the 8 a.m. class with no signs of her late night out, followed by many more hours of studying. They're the gotta-have-it-all twenty-something who busted her butt in college and is already on the same level as women ten years older in her field.

They're any girl who has packed her schedule, keeping herself busy with volunteer activities, who always manages to look perfect, regardless of how tired, stressed, or anxious she feels.

This is the plight of the Supergirls, the slew of young women who have decided that nothing short of perfection will do. By following the stories of five overachievers from different walks of life, and interviewing almost a hundred more, this book examines the lives of these girls to find out why they feel this need for perfection, and what they can possibly do to avoid the eventual burnout.

This book disappointed me by placing most of the blame on faceless entities such as "societal conditioning," rather than offering more concrete advice to young women who may be stuck in this harmful cycle of achievement and compliment addiction. Regardless, the stories in this book were an interesting foray into the psyche of a population that is often stereotyped and ignored, for the simple reason that "they have it all; how can anything be wrong in their lives?"

Reviewed by: Allison Fraclose
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