Girls Against Girls by Bonnie Burton

girls-against-girlsCindy: “Like ninjas, assassins, and vampire slayers, girls have an impressive arsenal of weapons…that range from subtle to obvious.” The subtitle says it all, really: “Why we are mean to each other and how we can change.” Girls Against Girls (Zest Books, 2009) ought to be in every middle and high school in the country. Copies in the libraries, copies in the counselors’ offices, copies in the lunchroom…seriously. I work in two large middle schools with a total of almost 1800 students. That means that I have 900 girls, give or take, between the ages of 11 and 13, and every one of them could benefit from reading this wise book. It starts with a common sense and scientific look at why we hurt each other and then looks at the most common ways we deliver the hurt. Burton then provides reasonable suggestions with how to respond (not react) to the abuse and when to seek help for more serious attacks including those that come via online communication. A helpful list of resources with phone numbers and websites wraps things up. I know this book will help my students better deal with each other, but I don’t think it would hurt the adults in their lives to read it too. As the author points out, we don’t necessarily grow out of some of these behaviors. A good brush-up for all of us about how to treat each other better.

Lynn: The deadly silent treatment! We all know it far too well, including males, since those of us of the “gentle sex” continue to wield this weapon as adults. In a chapter labeled “Methods of our Meaness” Burton lists six of the most common of girl-against-girl cruelties. She breaks her discussion into four sections: Why It Sucks, How It Works, Why She Does It and What You Can Do. Burton never pulls her punches here. She is direct and brutally honest, using contemporary language that speaks right to teens. Every girl who reads this book will find something that has been done to her and something she has done to someone else. The advice is practical and extremely useful while never downplaying the misery girls inflict so skillfully. Burton concludes the book with a chapter titled, “Teaming Up,” that suggests girls put their energies into working together. I agree completely with Cindy that librarians everywhere ought to be buying multiple copies and that everyone of us with those double XX chromosomes should be reading it.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

3 Comments on "Girls Against Girls by Bonnie Burton"

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  1. carliebeth@gmail.com' Carlie says:

    I, too, enjoyed this book, and I wish it had been around when I was a teen. Did you see that it’s been blogged at Jezebel, too? Great way to reach the target audience and their moms. http://jezebel.com/5235916/girls-against-girls

  2. barbert@carnegielibrary.org' Tessa says:

    I like that there is a variety of this type of book available to young girls, but would like to see more aimed at young men as well. The only ones in my library system are college-level texts on gender identity, etc. I can’t help but wonder if there’s a message in the absence of books on teenage male violence.

    I know that’s not the point of your post, though. I apologize for getting off track, but every time I see a review of a similar book I wait to see a mention of the corollary and it’s never there.

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