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Boyology: A Teen Girl's Crash Course in All Things Boy Paperback – April 15, 2009
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
About the Author
Sarah O'Leary Burningham is the author of How to Raise Your Parents. Still a teenager at heart, she lives in Manhattan.
Keri Smith is the author and illustrator of several books including the Guerilla Art Kit, Living Out Loud, Tear Up This Book, Story in a Box -- Cinderella, and Princess and the Pea. She lives in Troy, NY.
Top customer reviews
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Before we go any further, I must offer a clarification: Where I'm from, teenage males are not referred to as "boys." They are "guys." For me, the word "boy" conjures up images of dimpled 5-year-olds with gaps where their front teeth should be. The only people around here who call teenagers "boys" are school principals. This is doubtless just a regional difference, so if you're from Chicago like I am, just mentally substitute the word "guy" for "boy" when you're reading BOYOLOGY (i.e. GUYOLOGY). Please don't let that little objection turn you off from this book, because it has a lot of good advice to offer about boys or guys or whatever you call them.
BOYOLOGY contains a great deal of useful information for teenage girls who are trying to find their way around the confusing world of crushes and dating. While much of the advice might be things you have heard before in one form or another, it's nice to have it reinforced by a neutral third-party (i.e. someone who's not your mom or your minister). For instance, the book tells girls to be themselves and establish their physical boundaries before things get hot and heavy. There are also plenty of things that you probably haven't heard before, including fun date ideas for couples or groups, step-by-step instructions on how to kiss, and a quiz to see if you're a good date or not.
The book is optimistic, by which I mean that it spends relatively little time on the "What if he's not into you?" scenarios, and many more pages on successful flirting, dating, and becoming a couple. The author balances her approach by offering not only the fun side of dating, but also worthwhile safety information. She points out the importance of letting your parents know if you're "seeing" someone online, as well as how to avoid and, if necessary, deal with sexual assault. I recommend her tip on taking a minute to program a taxi service phone number into your cell phone so you can always get home safely. The book even has a chapter at the end about breaking up. You might never need tips on maintaining your dignity when running into the ex and his new girlfriend, but when you do need them, they're worth their weight in gold.
The book doesn't just offer the author's perspective. It has words of wisdom from celebrities, like Daniel Radcliffe and Zac Efron, and it provides advice from actual teenagers (lots of them boys/guys) who have "been there, done that." Even the author's husband (who used to be a boy/guy) chimes in from time to time.
About the only problem I ran across in BOYOLOGY is the same problem that other books like this can't really avoid. Books that rely on current culture become outdated quickly. There is so much time between when a book is written and when it's finally released, that there's no way for authors to be up-to-date on fads and popular expressions. For instance, this book discusses texting, but there's no mention of Twitter. It mentions MySpace, but not Facebook. In fact, this review itself will be outdated in a few months because Twitter and Facebook will probably have been replaced by something new. Other than that minor complaint, this is an interesting and useful book for teenage girls. The advice is pretty timeless and the celebrity quotes are an interesting addition.
So my advice is: Pick up a copy, have fun, and good luck out there!
Reviewed by: K. Osborn Sullivan
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the other reviews of this book. Many are thrilled with the book's friendly, sound advice and have received good feedback about it from girls, but a few are concerned that the advice is not cautious enough, or even that it encourages behavior that a girl may not be ready for. For those few I would say: definitely don't give this book to any girl who isn't ready for these issues. I'd also make the point that at some point all kids will become twitterpated. That, too, is human nature. And I'd say this book is a fine, readable conversation starter for parents and kids, or a pajama party giggle book. It's just the kind of stuff that fuels a thousand huddled discussions and notes and surveys and tweets. It's what girls want to talk about and, as an ex-girl, I thought the advice was sound, presented in a friendly way, and more appealing for its being peppered with celebrity quotes and anecdotes from the author and her acquaintances. Much more wholesome than some of the teen magazine articles I remember, too!
Chapter 1, B-O-Y Basics, sets the tone and offers up some universal advice such as: boys don't like shopping, they "don't notice all the flaws you see in yourself", and are just as puzzled as you. Some of the advice throughout the book focuses on girls -- who you are and what you want in a guy; other advice looks more intently at the guys themselves -- what "breed" they are, so to speak, as discussed in the second chapter. I didn't think this was offensive, offering eight types that a television producer would recognize -- tortured artist, hip-hopper, tech-tilian, for example, with each described by a celebrity look-alike, his future career, favorite movie, etc. Girls love this stuff!
Chapter 3 advises girls on how to act around guys. I wish I'd had a book like this! I think tween girls will find this very useful.
Chapter 4 discusses dating: first dates, mix tapes, places to go (baking at home, volunteering, dinner & a movie, bowling -- all fine ideas), paying, kissing, things that can go wrong, group dates, e-friends. (Yes, the author says that after a few months of emailing, it might be time to talk on the phone. That sets every parent's hair ahackle, but denying the temptation to a girl won't make it go away. The author also says that the girl should get the guy's number, not give out her own, that her parents should be in on this relationship from the beginning, and that a parent should accompany her to a first meeting in a public place. I think that all makes sense.)
Chapter 5, on love and relationships, talks about having a good relationship with a boyfriend, and offers affirmational tips on being yourself. The next chapter, Setting Your Boundaries, refers vaguely to "hooking up" but does not offer specifics, and does discuss assault and rape. This book does not discuss explicit acts, birth control or STDs, which makes it less valuable as a guide for young women, but it contains adequate material, one hopes, for teenage girls.
Chapter 7 is about the other people in your life, the ones that aren't boys -- friends, parents, etc. Chapter 8, Boy Friend Vs. Boyfriend, does a good job of helping tell the difference, and the last two chapters, on breaking up and dealing with an ex-boyfriend, treat emotional issues with respect and even offer a couple of getting-over-him formulae, a nice way to look beyond one's despair.
As others have mentioned, the book can't keep up with our breakneck technology, but the principles can be applied to whatever's on the horizon. This is a friendly discussion starter for girls, families and even boys. I deem the advice to be decent and sound, appropriate for tweens and young teens.
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It helps fill in the blank if you are a parent of a teen.