Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Reviving Ophelia

Posted by nliakos on March 15, 2007

by Mary Pipher (narrated by Linda Stephens)

This book came out in the 90s and is about the problems faced by adolescent girls growing up in a culture that bombards them with mixed messages about what it means to be female. Their parents, having grown up in a completely different time, cannot relate to what they are going through.

The book has some useful insights. I particularly liked the line, Not having confidence in your body means not having confidence in yourself. Pipher says adolescent girls become distant from their parents just when they need parental love and support the most. This reminds me to appreciate the fact that my 14-year-old still talks to me!

Pipher has chapters on eating disorders, sex, teen pregnancy, divorce, relationships with parents, substance abuse, and more. While I was listening to this book, I wondered whether Phyllis Reynolds Naylor has a checklist of issues to include in her Alice books!

At the end, Pipher remarks that popular girls are sometimes those who are most vulnerable to peer pressure, who get into the most trouble and are the most alienated from their parents. She points out that the most successful women are often those who suffered the most as teenagers; their very lack of popularity isolated them from the worst aspects of adolescence, shielding them from the negative consequences of irresponsible behavior. This is a perspective I had not considered before reading this book!

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