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GROW YOURSELF BEAUTIFUL

An exuberantly written guide to becoming a strong young woman.

In this debut self-help book, a mother issues an enthusiastic plea for young women to value themselves holistically and also expounds on the concept of “beauty.”

Organized around an acrostic of the word “beautiful,” Peddie’s text offers bite-sized meditations on how one can focus on one’s mental fortitude and happiness in a technology-obsessed culture. The chapters address general concepts, including kindness (“B Is for Being Kind”) and gratitude (“T Is for Thankfulness and gratefulness”), but they also offer concrete advice about taking time to “unplug,” to focus on one’s education, and to take care of one’s body. The seventh chapter draws on Peddie’s own experiences as a Christian to show how approaching the concept of faith with “an open heart” may benefit anyone, whether they participate in organized religion or not. Lists of practical suggestions include simple kindnesses (“offer people a piece of your gum”) and advice to “seek an older sibling or trusted friend who loves you and wants to protect you” when deciding how to proceed in a romantic relationship. The conclusion contains journal-oriented “thought starters” on topics covered in each chapter. Throughout, the prose has the cheerleading tone of someone who hopes that her young female readers will succeed in finding self-respect and self-love. A major strength of the text is that it dwells on the positive potential of girls and women rather than on shaming them. For example, rather than pointing out the evils of screen time, Peddie simply notes the importance of fostering a relationship with oneself, away from technology. The author’s compassionate point of view softens harder lessons, such as how making mistakes in life can make one resilient. By the end of the book, however, the messages’ power fades a bit due to repetition. As a result, the book is perfect for occasional dips and personal meditations.

An exuberantly written guide to becoming a strong young woman.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5320-5736-6

Page Count: 133

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2019

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THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER

Aspiring filmmaker/first-novelist Chbosky adds an upbeat ending to a tale of teenaged angst—the right combination of realism and uplift to allow it on high school reading lists, though some might object to the sexuality, drinking, and dope-smoking. More sophisticated readers might object to the rip-off of Salinger, though Chbosky pays homage by having his protagonist read Catcher in the Rye. Like Holden, Charlie oozes sincerity, rails against celebrity phoniness, and feels an extraliterary bond with his favorite writers (Harper Lee, Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Ayn Rand, etc.). But Charlie’s no rich kid: the third child in a middle-class family, he attends public school in western Pennsylvania, has an older brother who plays football at Penn State, and an older sister who worries about boys a lot. An epistolary novel addressed to an anonymous “friend,” Charlie’s letters cover his first year in high school, a time haunted by the recent suicide of his best friend. Always quick to shed tears, Charlie also feels guilty about the death of his Aunt Helen, a troubled woman who lived with Charlie’s family at the time of her fatal car wreck. Though he begins as a friendless observer, Charlie is soon pals with seniors Patrick and Sam (for Samantha), stepsiblings who include Charlie in their circle, where he smokes pot for the first time, drops acid, and falls madly in love with the inaccessible Sam. His first relationship ends miserably because Charlie remains compulsively honest, though he proves a loyal friend (to Patrick when he’s gay-bashed) and brother (when his sister needs an abortion). Depressed when all his friends prepare for college, Charlie has a catatonic breakdown, which resolves itself neatly and reveals a long-repressed truth about Aunt Helen. A plain-written narrative suggesting that passivity, and thinking too much, lead to confusion and anxiety. Perhaps the folks at (co-publisher) MTV see the synergy here with Daria or any number of videos by the sensitive singer-songwriters they feature.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02734-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: MTV Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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MONSTER

The format of this taut and moving drama forcefully regulates the pacing; breathless, edge-of-the-seat courtroom scenes...

In a riveting novel from Myers (At Her Majesty’s Request, 1999, etc.), a teenager who dreams of being a filmmaker writes the story of his trial for felony murder in the form of a movie script, with journal entries after each day’s action.

Steve is accused of being an accomplice in the robbery and murder of a drug store owner. As he goes through his trial, returning each night to a prison where most nights he can hear other inmates being beaten and raped, he reviews the events leading to this point in his life. Although Steve is eventually acquitted, Myers leaves it up to readers to decide for themselves on his protagonist’s guilt or innocence.

The format of this taut and moving drama forcefully regulates the pacing; breathless, edge-of-the-seat courtroom scenes written entirely in dialogue alternate with thoughtful, introspective journal entries that offer a sense of Steve’s terror and confusion, and that deftly demonstrate Myers’s point: the road from innocence to trouble is comprised of small, almost invisible steps, each involving an experience in which a “positive moral decision” was not made. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-028077-8

Page Count: 280

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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