- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (November 1, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312422237
- ISBN-13: 978-0312422233
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,466,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Growing Up Fast Paperback – October 14, 2004
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“In nearly 400 fast-paced pages of wonderfully evocative prose, much of it in the words of her six subjects, all teen mothers, Lipper has actually conveyed the social and personal history of a growing class of Americans for whom there is little help and less hope. But this class of people has inner lives, and this is what Lipper is so deft at communicating.... Give this book for Christmas. It will burden the conscience of its readers.” ―Martin Peretz, The New Republic
“Readers looking for a slice of life in deindustrializing America will find much to admire about this book...The book should be mandatory reading in middle school, for as the young mothers themselves explain, had they know what they were getting into, they never would have walked this path.” ―Katherine S. Newman, Washington Post
About the Author
JOANNA LIPPER lives in New York City, where she runs Ruby Slipper Productions. She had made two documentary films, Inside Out: Portraits of Children and Growing Up Fast. Growing Up Fast is her first book.
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Growing Up Fast provides a window into the lives of those girls we see pushing baby strollers along a downtown sidewalk, laying out the challenging truths that led them to become mothers, and that they continue to confront as they raise their children. The "bleak story" is not just for the six teen mothers profiled in this book, but for American children, ill-prepared or uncaring young fathers, extended families, schools, taxpayers and all of us who care about America's next generations.
I have just finished reading Random Family, by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, which has to be the publishing world's equivalent of a first cousin for Growing Up Fast. I highly recommend both books, but I came to appreciate Lipper's approach in dividing her narrative into six stories. Although some stories are related, no chapter is so long and complex that one becomes overwhelmed with names and relationships and timelines. The diversity achieved by profiling six girls also allows Lipper to avoid the question, "Why Coco?" that LeBlanc notes was posed to her repeatedly about her decision to focus on one of the two principal subjects of Random Family. Lipper also provides beautiful photos that allow us to look right into the haunted eyes (as well as some moments of contentment) of these young families.
I am the Mayor of Pittsfield. Before publication of Growing Up Fast, I worried how Lipper's book would portray our City. Lipper is successful in telling the story through the words and experiences of Amy, Liz, Colleen, Shayla, Sheri and Jessica, and avoids injecting judgments of her own. I find her research is thorough and her engaging words are fair although none of our urban problems is left off the table. But mental illness, substance abuse, unemployment, domestic violence, poverty, homelessness and absentee parents are widespread problems. The Pittsfield community and all of America can learn from the stories of these young women, and from the successful programs here and in other communities that Lipper describes in her closing chapters. We owe it to these girls and to their children to do our best.
Joanna Lipper not only wrote this sad, but interesting book, she made a film about the main participants---six teenage mothers, some of the fathers, some parents and siblings. The bulk of the book traces the stories of the six girls in very empathetic detail, combining interviews, observations, and records of participation in various programs. Drugs, violence, and general unawareness of life and its possibilities play strong roles in nearly all cases. Race is factored into the picture. Most of the girls are white, but race doesn't seem to be very important here. But what about class? While economic background and education are often discussed and described, Lipper makes no effort to draw any conclusions about class and people who "fall" from middle to lower, people who resent being at the bottom. Where does all this self-destructive behavior come from ? I would say such questions are not dealt with. A few black and white photos only make the stories more poignant. If----if only---there are so many of these ifs. What can be done ? The author outlines various programs that exist or existed in Pittsfield, but offers no general ideas on the problem. The strong point of the book is the well-written stories of the teenage mothers. I admit I had never given much thought to teenage mothers and their children until I read GROWING UP FAST. I think that for raising the consciousness of people about this problem, you would have to go a long way to beat Lipper's book.
I'm reading it for a Womanist Theology class in Seminary and it has been a useful tool in contemporary view of women and unconscious class structures that exist today.