Monday, March 23, 2009

Review: My Girl: Adventures with a Teen in Training by Karen Stabiner

I was shelving my books (almost done with that--woohoo!) and ran across this book. Given that I am living with a teen in training (well, two but only one of the girl variety) right now, I thought I should probably read this sooner rather than later. Of course, it made me a bit nervous given my policy that ignorance is bliss as to what's coming my way as a parent of teens. But since it was sitting on my shelf looking topical and just asking to be read, I heeded its advice and opened its cover. This is the memoir of a few years (ten to fourteen) in the life of Stabiner and her daughter Sarah. Stabiner's premise is that very few kids actually go through what we think of as the standard and horrible teen years and she presents her life with Sarah as proof that being a pre-teen and teen doesn't mean morphing into a Queen Bee or Wannabe and just plain being nasty. The book is both anecdotes of their life and a look at why we have the impressions we do of the teen years and how our children will behave then. I'd be quite curious to see what she thinks of life from fourteen to eighteen or twenty, not simply because I am a pessimist but because I can already see in my own pre-teen daughter that the young teen years are liable to be less fraught than the later years just given her personality and her current mostly naive innocence. But I suspect that many of the hurdles that kids and or parents stumble over come later in the teen years when the stakes are higher and the problems can be so much bigger. This is, of course, not covered in a book that stops at the fourteenth birthday party. But Stabiner and her daughter obviously navigated the years covered with grace and only occasional falling-outs. She doesn't really offer a roadmap for as smooth a ride as possible as much as she offers the reassurance that it can be smoother than you might expect. In some ways, this was reassuring and in others the skeptic in me screamed, "Anecdotal evidence and therefore meaningless!" Several weeks on from reading this, I am still uncertain how I feel about this book, making me suspect that I think it's a lukewarm, "It was fine" sort of read.

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