One of the best parts of my job is that I get sent a lot of amazing books. I also find out about a lot of amazing books that I don’t get sent and just buy myself. Which I’m happy to do because I’m all about supporting my writer peeps, but sometimes leads D. to have thoughts about the state of our Amazon account. Anyway, the point is there are a lot of cool books out there that I read and think “must tell the blog about this!” but then don’t get organized to write the post. I think this is because when I like a book, it’s actually a lot harder to write about it than when I disagree wildly and want to get my argument out there. But that’s sort of unfair to the books I like, right?
Long story short: Enter a new sporadic-but-regular feature called Reading List where I’m going to tell you about books I am reading and really loving. Ideally in some sort of coherent, pithy manner.
First up is The Drama Years: Real Girls Talk About Surviving Middle School — Bullies, Brands, Body Image and More by Haley Kilpatrick, founder of Girl Talk, with Whitney Joiner.
I don’t know about you, but for me, middle school was a pretty bleak time. Plus, my very first job out of college was as a features assistant at Seventeen Magazine (where sorryadvertisers, the average reader’s age is about 13, as people will weirdly love to tell you at parties when you say you work at Seventeen, like you don’t already know). I spent a lot of time answering emails from these girls, between working on the Letters page and writing the Sex Q&A column. Teen readers of magazines develop a close and personal relationship with said magazine, so at least three times a day, I got an email that had me on the verge of tears and panic. Like of the full-on emergency, “my boyfriend pressured me to have sex and now I might be pregnant,” variety.
I didn’t think that job would involve me being anywhere near the front lines of what’s happening with kids today — and it’s not like I had any educational or psychological training that would qualify me to help with questions like that! But what I learned is that there are a lot of girls out there with a lot of terrible sh*t going on. And a magazine office located many hundreds of miles from their home somehow seems like the best chance they have of finding an adult who will understand.
After that experience, basically any book that tries to help girls get through middle school is a win to me. (I’m also highlighting it because my sister, cousin and several close friends work with middle school-age kids in a truly-on-the-front-lines way and they do amazing work/need all the help they can get.) But TDY is especially great because Haley and Whitney got real girls to talk about how the adults in their lives could help them get through these years. If you’re a parent of a middle schooler and feel like your own kid isn’t talking to you, here are 50 who will.
There are also tons of practical, actionable tips and real solutions. I wish I could mail a copy or The Drama Years to every girl who ever emailed me at Seventeen (or, since they are all now almost ten years older — every girl currently emailing the features assistant there).