Talking About The Truth: A Book for Girls

August 23, 2008

I just finished an interesting book called The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) by Dr. Barabra Becker Holstein. It was a delightful little book about a girl who keeps a diary where she writes the truth, while leaving a fake diary around for her parents to find. She’s confident and insecure, a child and a young woman, practical and unreasonable—in short, everything that most girls are when they are on the cusp of adolescence.

While the book is short, there is lot’s to generate discussion for moms and daughters. To read a full review, click here.

Claire Dean Essay on Girlwood

August 21, 2008

Claire Dean is the author of Girlwood, a book that’s part reality, part fantasy and very interesting to read. (Read my review.)

Today I got the chance to read an essay by Dean, posted by Powell’s Books. In it she talks about some of the things that happened in her earlier life that had an influence on what she wrote about in Girlwood. You can read the essay at Powell’s by clicking here.

I also think Dean’s Web site,, is very interesting. On the books tab, Dean talks about visiting a mother-daughter book club, and she says she’s willing to connect with other clubs if they contact her at the email address listed. Her other pages are also very interesting, many with subjects related to themes you’ll find in Girlwood. They include pages on edible plants, wilderness survival and auras. I took the quiz to find out what color my aura is, and found out it’s blue. I like her ideas for coming of age ceremonies that parents can create for their children, and there’s a reading guide for Girlwood. It’s fascinating!

Q and A with Mary Pearson, Author of The Adoration of Jenna Fox

August 7, 2008

When Catherine and I last met with our book club, we talked about the Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson. We had a great discussion about the book, and when we were done we came up with a list of questions we wanted to ask the author. We emailed them to Mary and she very kindly emailed answers back! Here is an excerpt from the Q & A:

Why did you choose to write about ethics in medicine?

MP: I am not sure that I exactly “chose” to write about ethics.  I think the question of ethics naturally arose out of the situation and story.  When I write, I like to explore gray areas and various viewpoints and I think the particulars of this story and situation, just happened to be ripe with ethical questions.

Why did you decide to place the story in a future time?

MP: Years ago, when my own daughter was facing a life-threatening illness but was saved by modern medicine that hadn’t been available fifty years earlier, I wondered how far medicine would progress in another fifty years.  I didn’t think of it as an idea for a story at the time, but that niggling question stayed with me.

Was there something particular you wanted to say to a teen audience about the issues?

MP: No.  I don’t write to “tell” teens anything.  For me, when I write, it is more a matter of exploring things that I am curious about.  And I write from the teen perspective because I find the teen years to be so pivotal and life changing.  Teens are adults, albeit young ones, who are experiencing so many firsts and making decisions that can affect them for the rest of their lives.

To read the rest of the questions and Mary’s answers, click here.

An Interview with Patricia McCormick, Author of Sold, Cut and My Brother’s Keeper

August 5, 2008

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Patricia McCormick, who wrote the books Cut, My Brother’s Keeper and Sold. A writer who feels passionately about the subjects she chooses to write about, McCormick is shedding light on issues that don’t often get covered fictionally.

Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

Your books deal with very difficult subjects. Things that people maybe don’t want to talk about too much. What’s the advantage do you see of talking about those things in a fictionalized way?

PM: If you have a conversation about a fictional girl and her mother, or a fictional girl and her father they are one or two or ten steps removed from your situation, but you can still see similarities. So I think it’s a much safer way to talk about things that people aren’t comfortable talking about. Everybody is affected when something happens like in Cut or My Brother’s Keeper. They don’t know how to talk about it. And, if you’re cutting, you might think you’re the only one in the world doing it, and it’s really hard to ask for help. But if you’re reading about it in a book it’s easier to ask for help. I’ve heard from so many kids who’ve said that they just went in and put the book down or made a point of letting their parents know they were reading this book as a way of saying, “that’s me, that’s what’s going on in my life.”

That must be very rewarding.

PM: Oh it is. I love when I hear from librarians who say, “I needed a book just like this for one of my kids,” or when they tell me it’s one of their most stolen books.

What draws you to the topics you talk about?

PM: My Brother’s Keeper is a story I kind of lived through. I lived with family members who have substance abuse problems, and my thinking there was the person who’s got the problem with substance abuse attracts a lot of attention, but there are so many other people affected by it who should have a voice too.
As for Cut, I was really fascinated by this issue and by the idea that somebody could be so hurt or angry or lonely or frustrated or numbed-out but couldn’t tell anybody so they take it out on their bodies.

With Sold, I heard about trafficking and I just couldn’t believe that people sold their children. There’s great journalism about trafficking, but I think when you turn it into fiction and when you really sink into the experience of another human being experiencing this, it calls on your empathy.

Did you hope to inspire people to action with this book?

PM: I very much had the idea of activating people. I had opportunities to intervene while I was doing the research, but I was thwarted in the things I wanted to do. Then I thought, “what I can do is write a book.” So I couldn’t write it fast enough. I wanted everyone to know immediately about this. I’ve been really amazed at the response. Kids of this generation tend to be very socially aware and care about issues of social justice and are activists. They want to raise money and they want to find out more. Even kids you wouldn’t anticipate having any kind of connection to an issue like this. I went to a juvenile facility, and I though, “why are these girls going to care about some girl in a mud hut?” But they were really moved. And I think it’s because they know what it’s like in some cases to be betrayed by a family member. Or to be sexualized inappropriately. Kids are really shocked that this is happening to their peers.

How do people best channel their desire for action?

PM: We’re physically far removed from the problem, so the best way to help is through our donations. The organizations I list in the back of the book really helped me, and I can vouch that the money really goes to help the girls. Five dollars can buy a girl her first new dress when she leaves the brothel. It’s such a huge benefit to her to put on something clean and modest. People can also talk about the issue. Trafficking happens here in the United States. Either with kids coming in from foreign countries or kids who run away here and are trafficked once they lose their bearings and run out of money.

Click here to read the full interview.