Edited by Amy Goldwasser
Hudson Street Press
267 pages. $21.95 ($14 paperback).
Full of heart, sass and energy, these personal essays by 58 girls between ages 13 and 19, from 24 states across the country, were chosen from 800 submissions. Finding “the freshest, most fearless young voices out there to explode the puffy pink stereotype of the American girl,” Goldwasser notes that online skills breed writers. The essays tackle a wide range of topics – organized here into eight sections – with breathtaking openness. For example, Eliza Appleton, 16, defends the practice of grinding – that’s “dirty dancing,” to the older generation.
While confirming disturbing trends such as eating disorders and self-cutting, these essays also reveal enlightenment and courage. At 16, Tiffani Hortman’s muscular dystrophy doesn’t keep her from competitive swimming and horseback riding – and advising others how to be open about being different. In her timely essay, “Ms. President,” Dani Cox, 13, declares that “ordinary girls have the power to be truly extraordinary.”
Stories continue on MySpace and at http://www.redthebook.com, where each contributor has her own blog. The website also includes video interviews and a soundtrack. Those who work with teenage girls will value such illumination of this generation’s identity, finding fresh insight for building bridges. (212) 366-2000, http://www.penguingroup.com.