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.
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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