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The Wonder of Girls: Understanding the Hidden Nature of Our Daughters Paperback – February 18, 2003

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Editorial Reviews Review

In The Wonder of Girls, Michael Gurian aims to bring us new insights into the lives of our daughters in much the same way he attempted to open up the lives of adolescent males in The Wonder of Boys. While many of the chapters read like lessons in biology, plenty of parents will find useful tidbits and reflections from this father of two.

Gurian emphatically agrees with Deborah Sichel's (Women's Moods) idea of "A woman's biology is the cornerstone of her mental health." He elaborates on this theory throughout his discussion on the physical changes in childhood and adolescence. This concept certainly holds some validity, but there's a fine line from here to "biology is destiny." Some readers may find Gurian crosses that line with his claims of "brain pruning" and insistence about hormones: "they don't just change a girl into a woman, they are, to a great extent, the woman herself."

Others find his recommendations on hormonal treatments to be a literal lifesaver, and the book is peppered with positive anecdotes from his own life and families encountered in his training sessions. Important issues like self-esteem, eating disorders, and sexual experimentation are all addressed, along with the role of the father and "the absolute sanctity of motherhood." Gurian offers a somewhat narrow path as a guide through your daughter's adolescence, but if nothing else, this book will provide a solid background in the physical aspects of her growth. --Jill Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Therapist Gurian probes the unique aspects of girls' emotional, social and physical development in a follow-up to his bestselling The Wonder of Boys. First, though, he takes a few stabs at feminism, arguing that several of its theories (which, it must be noted, he incorrectly oversimplifies) need to be revised or even discarded by parents seeking to raise healthy girls. But Gurian's trademark is examining how biology impacts behavior. Biological matters hormones, brain differences (girls' brains are "more broadly active" than boys' and have 15% more blood flow) ultimately define girls' and boys' journeys through childhood and adolescence, Gurian argues. Even a girl's drop in self-esteem during adolescence is a "natural," biological phenomenon rather than a result of negative cultural influences. Feminists, he argues, have ignored the biological differences in order to successfully compete with men in the workplace; in so doing, they have denied or downplayed a girl's desire for intimacy and the experience of motherhood. Gurian urges parents to use a new model in raising girls (he calls it "Womanism") in which motherhood is a "season" when careers must be adjusted or put on hold. The author boldly suggests that parents prepare their daughters for the sacrifices of motherhood, and ensure that girls establish a three-family system (the nuclear family, the extended family and institutions such as church or school) that will meet their need for intimate relationships. Expect Gurian's arguments to stir controversy and inspire thought. (Jan.)Forecast: Gurian's success with The Wonder of Boys and other parenting titles should make this an easy sell, though some readers may object to what feels like a rejection of feminist tenets.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books (February 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743417038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743417037
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Gurian is a social philosopher, family therapist, corporate consultant, and the New York Times bestselling author of twenty books published in fifteen languages. The Gurian Institute, which he co-founded, conducts research internationally, launches pilot programs and trains professionals. Michael has been called "the people's philosopher" for his ability to bring together people's ordinary lives and scientific ideas.
As a social philosopher, he has pioneered efforts to bring neuro-biology and brain research into homes, workplaces, schools and public policy. A number of his ground-breaking books in child development, including THE WONDER OF BOYS, BOYS AND GIRLS LEARN DIFFERENTLY! THE WONDER OF GIRLS and WHAT COULD HE BE THINKING? have sparked national debate. His newest work, THE MINDS OF BOYS (September 2005) provides a revolutionary new framework, based in neuro-biology, by which to understand and care for the educational needs of our sons.
Michael has served as a consultant to families, corporations, therapists, physicians, school districts, community agencies, churches, criminal justice personnel and other professionals, traveling to approximately 20 cities a year to keynote at conferences. His training videos (also available as DVDs) for parents and volunteers are used by Big Brother and Big Sister agencies in the U.S. and Canada.
As an educator, Michael previously taught at Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington University, and Ankara University. His speaking engagements include Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, Macalester College, University of Colorado, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and UCLA. His philosophy reflects the diverse cultures (European, Asian, Middle Eastern and American) in which he has lived, worked and studied.
Michael's work has been featured in various media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, Newsweek, Time, People, Reader's Digest, the Wall Street Journal, Parenting, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and on the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, PBS and National Public Radio.
Michael can be reached on the worldwide web at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

107 of 120 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Brown on January 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I wasn't exactly thrilled to be reading a book called the The Wonder of Girls - especially as it's written by a chap - novelist, poet, neurobiological researcher, psychologist, husband & father of two girls notwithstanding! I was dreading it would be either incomprehensibly technical or a sappy, feel-good read. I should have known better because I had already reviewed Michael Gurian's A Fine Young Man & had found this author to be personable, charmingly thoughtful & invaluably informative.
Through research, memories, poems, letters, family moments & professional cases Michael Gurian sets out to inform us Why Girls Are the Way They Are. In his simple, direct & pleasant way he starts at the beginning of the search for A New Logic of Girls' Lives. He presents precisely & calmly that it is time for Feminists to grow up & become Womanists.
As an erstwhile rabid Feminist, I have long since outgrown its angst. In Looking Beyond Feminism: Old Myths and New Theories, Michael Gurian catches up to me & explains how Feminism might now be what's keeping us back. Biology, Feminist ideals notwithstanding, still rules supreme & if we don't know how we work, then we don't know why we're doing what we're doing.
One vital passage: Girls' Stress Responses needs to be read by everyone: "When a child is under inordinate stress for a prolonged period...her brain development will definitely be affected. She will be "rewired" neurologically...The stress hormone, cortisol,(as well as adrenal and other "lower" brain functions) have dominated brain growth...and this affects normal brain growth patterns." Why then, are we surprised by the depression in all our early adolescent girls?
In Part II: What Girls Need, we explore The Artful Mother: What Girls Need from Mom.
Read more ›
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51 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Sandra D. Peters on January 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Gurian has written am enlightening book on understanding and raising daughters. The book takes a look at both the biological differences and psychological apsects of raising daughters in this follow-up book to "The Wonder of Boys" (also, an excellent book for those parents rasing sons.)
The author addresses the emotional, social and physical needs of daughters and gives readers a better understanding of how to fulfill those needs. There are a few apsects of the book, however, not all parents may agree with, particularly when Guirian suggests parents should prepare their daughters for "the sacrifices of motherhood." While it is true that mothers often put their children's needs before there own, I am not sure they consider this role in terms of a "sacrifice". That statement conjures up visions of mother being martyrs, and few mothers actually think of themselves in that light. Most mature and responsible parents would consider the time, energy and financial resources it takes to raise a child, a small price to pay in return for the blessings and joy of having a child, regardless of the challenges that come with parenting.
The book does make some very valid points, and whether one agrees entirely with the author or not, the book is worth reading and, on the biological side at least, it is quite informative.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By C.S. Whitmore on April 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
I am a working mother of three children - a son and two daughters. I bought The Good Son, Shaping the Moral Development of our Boys & Young Men by Michael Gurian, and picked up The Wonder of Girls, Understanding the Hidden Nature of Our Daughters, also written by Gurian, simply because if I'm going to buy a book about the boy, as an Equal Opportunity Parent, I feel compelled to buy a book about the girls, even though I generally feel much more confident in my ability to parent my girls than I do my son. After I bought these books, I checked some reviews and was a little put off by one review that classified The Wonder of Girls as an attempt of a man trying to tell women what their nature was when he, by nature, could never have a true understanding of women. I decided to start with The Wonder of Girls because, frankly... it's the shorter of the two. And I was a girl once upon a time, so I figure reading it will be like eating cotton candy... sweet but requiring little effort. I couldn't have been more wrong, and I find myself rereading passages many times. Gurian includes a great deal of scientific detail, neurological information about how male and female hormones shape our reactions and development, and debunks a great deal of the argument that boy and girl behavior is all due to socialization. Gurian doesn't dismiss it entirely, nor does he try to assert that generalizations about the biological nature of women are absolute for every woman, but makes a very strong case that while socialization plays a role in behavior, socialization has been overemphasized and biology has been grossly underemphasized. I don't know a mother who hasn't lamented on the difference between her boys and girls...Read more ›
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Mike P on April 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
There is not a mysogynistic cell in my entire anatomy, and yet I've never quite been able to accept that 'feminist' dictum of Helen G. Brown and her crowd. Camile Paglia at least makes sense to me, though I really had no hard facts to back up my feelings. Well, Michael Gurian certainly does. This book isn't an attack on feminism in any form; it's a celebration of the the differences between girls and their other primate companions, referred to as boys, males, or sometimss men. We are not the same, and this book explains why without apology; it applauds the female person for her wonder, her specialness, and her many advantages in life, without diminishing her male counterparts in the process. I've watched women all my life, including three daughters who are now out and on their own. That development is a compendium of miracles and unfathomable mysteries to me. How I wish I'd had this book when they were a bit younger, back when they came to me hoping I might understand what I could not at that time. If you have a daughter, buy the book!
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