Friday, May 13, 2016

Book Review: How I Survived Being a Girl

A Fair Trade Book 

Title: How I Survived Being a Girl

Author: Wendelin Van Draanen

Author's web site:

Date: 1997

Publisher: Harper Collins

ISBN: 0-06-026671-6

Length: 163 pages

Quote: “Just something brothers do, I guess. Call you names. Pound on you.”

It was something brothers did in the 1960s, when I suspect Wendelin Van Draanen was growing up. It went with girls wearing skirts and Mary Jane shoes to school, kids being allowed to sneak out at night and annoy the neighbors, and newspaper offices having a rule that girls weren’t allowed to have paper routes. Nothing in this story has been updated.

This was one of my pet peeves when I was the kind of middle school reader for whom How I Survived Being a Girl is intended. I enjoyed historical fiction; I liked stories about things that happened to grown-ups back when they were my age. I didn’t like it when books whose publication dates made them seem contemporary turned out to be about things that could only have happened forty years ago. I thought writers owed kids some sort of update, at least a foreword or afterword that would have explained things like, in the case of How I Survived Being a Girl, “This story is based on things I remember from when I was twelve years old. Businesses wouldn’t be allowed to discriminate against girls nowadays...which may be one reason why fewer businesses hire twelve-year-olds.”

Anyway, this is a fast-moving, easy-reading story about a girl who’s been trying to conform to her brothers’ way of being boys. Middle school readers will be laughing at the character more than learning from her, but they’ll be entertained through a few long bus rides or rainy afternoons.

So, it's not Sammy Keyes , but this book is recommended to readers who are in middle school, but still look for short easy-reading books with small words and large print...and will enjoy feeling that they are more intelligent than some kids their age, or a bit older, after all. It’s possible that How I Survived Being a Girl will make that sort of kid’s day.

To buy it here as a Fair Trade Book, send $5 per book + $5 per package to either address at the very bottom of the screen, for a total of $10, out of which we'll send 10%, or $1, to Wendelin Van Draanen or a charity of her choice.