Monday 23 February 2009

Red: Teenage Girls in America Write What Fires Up Their Lives Today - Ed. Amy Goldwasser

Summary - For every teen girl who thinks she's alone and every adult who's dared to try to figure her out comes this "heartbreaking, hilarious, and often harrowing" (Francine Prose) collection. American girls - ages thirteen to nineteen, from across the spectrum of geographic, socioeconomic, racial, and religious upbringings - write about body image, family, politics, and pop culture. From their accounts of post-Katrina New Orleans to Johnny Depp to the pain of losing a friend, the authors of Red are brave and honest documentarians of their own lives.

Review - I admit to buying this book as I knew that both Jordyn and Jocelyn were contributors. I would have bought it anyway as the whole concept intrigued me, as did the idea that it has been made almost immediately available on Australian shelves.

I loved this book as it was so affirming of the many different events (big and small) that we survive as teenagers. Technology has made life even more complicated for teenagers but essentially we have all had to muddle through the same experiences to varying degrees of suckage.

Of the contributions that struck me the most...

Mascara Wands Are Instruments of War - Jordyn's essay covers how the most innocuous of words from one's mother can pierce your heart. This was an immensely personal read for me. Her honesty about how much her mother's words cut to the core, her admission that her words might have the same affect back and an overarching sense of humour made this an emotional and smile invoking reflection.
Sleeves - Amy Hunt's insight into becoming invisible was heart wrenching awesome. She brilliantly gave insight into what it is like to be the fat girl. What it's truly like to go shopping, to hide behind online communication and suffer the slings and arrows of bullying. Essentially this essay boils down to the fear of being alone, a universal fear, one that unites us all.
Lucky - Caro Fink's essay is hard to read. It encompasses her dealings with sexual identity, cutting and self-acceptance. Her words are touching, moving and inspiring because she's been so honest, so real, so unfiltered. And yet there is a sense of hope that I felt stayed with me. I need for her to be still in that place of luck.

There are many contributions that stuck with me but to talk about them all would be way too time consuming. I would definitely recommend buying it as I felt like part of a sisterhood as these girl's words washed over me. Plenty of congratulations need to be sent Amy Goldwasser's way for choosing such a vast array of well written, insightful and humorous pieces on the teenage condition. Lastly, I would like to offer the contributors of this collection a big hug and much applause for being brave in revealing so much of themselves so as to positively affect others.

Published: November 2008
Format: Paperback, 267 pages
Publishers: Pearson Aust.
Origin: USA
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Red The Book Official Website - This site is worth checking out regardless of whether you have read the book or not.

(Update - I have been talking about this book with people within my sphere of friends and colleagues. I now have a three person waiting list to borrow it. Words matter. Experiences matter. Free expression matters.)


Alea said...

That's totally why i bought it too hehe. I had been meaning to get it though after i had originally heard about it and them shamefully forgot! I cannot wait to read it!

LisaMay said...

Wow this sounds really good! I'm going to hunt down a copy for myself :)

Jordyn said...

Ahhh I love that you reviewed this book and OF COURSE I thank you SO MUCH for mentioning my essay. I love that it touched you so much - I didn't think that people would be able to relate to it (because I am retarded, obviously) and was nicely surprised.

Anyway, THANK YOU for the review. I'm gonna email it to Amy (Goldwasser) and my other RED friends.

Beth Fehlbaum, Author said...

I've heard great things about this book.
Beth Fehlbaum, author
Courage in Patience, a story of HOPE...
Ch. 1 is online!