Book review: 'Real Girls Guide' fails to deliver

By Whit Larson

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Aug. 13 2011 3:00 p.m. MDT

"REAL GIRLS GUIDE TO EVERYTHING: That Makes it Awesome to Be a Girl," by Erin Brereton, Triumph Books, $12.95, 192 pages (nf)

Author Erin Brereton is a freelance writer and editor from Chicago who worked as senior editor on the "Mary-Kate And Ashley Magazine," and that credential alone speaks volumes as to the content of this book.

"Real Girls," which is targeted at tweens, promises in the introduction to "walk you through everything you need to know to safely make it to the other side of your teen years."

However, some may find it easier to get through the tween years than it is to get through this book.

In response to the question, "Just why is being a girl so great?" the author begins this book by writing, "You're good at math..."

Really? What about all of the tweens and teens out there who are not good at math? It's a strange sentence with which to begin her book.

It is surprising that she doesn't say, "Statistics say you're good at math!" This book is full of statistics. Some of her statistics include how many girls plan to attend college (75 percent). How many women worked outside the home 100 years ago? (19 percent) And how many young adults have flirted via text? (74 percent)

Brereton said impractical shoes; sparkly stuff; skirts and a deeper understanding of the “Twilight” series are more reasons it’s great to be a girl.

The author, however, seems confused about her audience. She vacillates between a clinical voice with case studies and statistics and her perception of tweens and the way she supposes them to talk: "You go girl!" "Oh, no she dihn't" and "Rock on with your bad self,” which makes the book uneven and annoying.

The author's perceptions seem completely out of touch.

For example, in talking about planning the perfect Sweet 16 birthday party she says, "If you can afford it, go online and rent some... color-coordinated designer linens,” and about healthy eating she recommends, "gnoshing on... seaweed... and...wild salmon."

Brereton does have a very few good recommendations like avoiding both blue eye shadow and sexting, but if parents are looking for an "instruction book" for their tween that all can read and enjoy, they may want to put the $13 saved by not purchasing this book toward "The Daring Book for Girls," which is a much better read.

Whit Larson has a teen daughter and works young women between the ages of 12 to 17. She occasionally blogs at WhitLarson.com.

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