Reviving Ophelia : Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls

ISBN: 0788705199
ISBN 13: 9780788705199
By: Mary Pipher

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Reader's Thoughts

Lisa

Every parent ought to read this book to understand how to help their daughters cope with adolescence and the challenges they will face. There are a number of "worst case scenarios" sprinkled throughout the book that put fear in me as a mother. I made good choices growing up, despite being raised by some very hands-off parents; I am fearful that my daughter's world, which is so much different from my own at her age, might put in front of her too many obstacles, not all of which she might overcome. From a purely knowledge-gain perspective, this was a good read. Getting into the nitty-gritty of girls' developmental stages, and how it is impacted by society's perceptions of girls, was enlightening. I am all too aware that images of "perfect" bodies makes most women self-critical of their own. The concept of control/acceptance as a family dynamic was helpful and thought-proving. I will definitely keep this book on my shelf for when my daughter is in the midst of adolescence to help her (and myself) guide her through the trenches.Thank you, Mary Pipher, for the work you've done with girls and women.

Suzanne Evans

My mom gave me this book when I was like 12 or 13... this was only the beginning of the self help slurry of books, clippings, etc that my mom would throw my way. As an adolescent girl (who this book is geared towards) I hid the book under my bed and read other bull shit things like the other books you will see on my list (read in the early to mid 90s). Thinking I knew what was best for me, as girls do at that age, I continued to resist my mother's consistent pushing me to read this book. She eventually gave up, an I found the book something like 10 years later and figured why not, I am already an adult, lets see how off I was in growing up. WOW... I feel like if I just listened to my mother at 13 I could have avoided A LOT of the most annoying parts of growing up.

Kathleen

This book deals with the lives of young girls and their struggle with eating disorders. I read this when this was an issue in my own family, and I found it to be a great resource.

Katherine

Approximately 1/3 of the way into this book, I nearly quit. It was highly repetitive; I felt like a lengthy magazine article could have covered the same material. As I got further into the problem-specific chapters, though, I began thinking more and more about my own experiences. I was 13 when this book was first published. I am very much a product of the culture Pipher was addressing. Her insights on family relationships in particular got me thinking. I found some of her cultural observations less interesting, more melodramatic. Overall, though, Pipher wrote an interesting book dotted with useful bits of advice without sounding like a self-help book or being overly preachy. I particularly appreciated her objective stance on adolescent drug and alcohol use--that not all of it is problematic or to be pathologized.

Shelly

It's been a while since I read this and was reminded about it via a thread on this very website about how women feel about barbie dolls and the like. The author is a psychologist who works with adolescent girls and suggests that there is a window (somewhere between 9 and 13 if I remember correctly) where young girls will either choose academic, athletic, or artistic endeavors--or boys. Girls learn to like boys early on (way before they learn to like girls) and an unfortunate consequence of this is that they will often do whatever it takes to get the young boys attention. So little girls who had no problem playing in the mud, or climbing trees, or whatever--become more self-conscious about their appearance and will start to wear make-up, "sexy" clothes(i know that sounds gross in this context but), and alter their daily activities so that they become someone a boy would notice more. As they get older, maybe they put out, or smoke pot...whatever they feel might attract a particular boy to them. The key here is to keep young girls occupied with other activities like sports and music so that you delay that window and the girl has time to build her self-esteem/identity before she becomes interested in boys. Girls who have their own interest are less likely to alter their life to conform to something a teenage boy may be interested in.

Victoria McVay

I had to read this for a class I took recently, it was… alright. There are some great points and lessons in this book, however, the author makes incredibly broad and exaggerated statements about girls going through puberty, almost as though this book should be taken as doctrine. I definitely do not agree that everything she speaks of, introduces you to, etc, is the "norm," nor do I think girls who escape the repercussions of our "girl hating America" are typically wealthy, in loving stable homes, or smart enough to block out all of the evil cultural pressures we've had shoved down our throats over the years. It has a strong sense of feminism, the author even says things early on such as, "Where are the women in the history books?" and she talks about how girls grow up seeing men in powerful positions, and thus automatically yet possibly unconsciously believe they are powerless in a man's world. Pah-leez! Really? For one, women are in history books, for two, there are more men because in those time periods, women were at home raising families, not waging war and writing the Constitution. Smh… the world is not out to get us. Aside from that, I do think its a good book for parents and their daughters while going through puberty, perhaps they'll be able to learn from others' mistakes so they don't have to experience those particular hardships themselves.

Kim

I've read this book a couple of times (especially when I'm recommended it to one of my teenage students who's having a hard time) and it's a really powerful book.

Carrie

There were some good things I took away from this book. Oddly enough the most important things I learned is to keep my daughters room filled with journals and writing tools. :) Wow, I wish I would have used (or would use now) writing as a tool to stay mentally healthy. The other is to keep her busy in things that make her strong in, body, mind, and spirit.Another thing I walked away with is that there are strengths and weaknesses in every form of parenting. It made me want to hug the stuffing out of my parents for loving me so much to try to keep me grounded and busy. They gave me a moral basis to work from and allowed me to explore who I am with a lot of support. Man, if I can be half the parents they were....but I digress...I think it is a very good read for parents with daughters. After reading it I came away with a sincere worry about my daughter loosing her power. She is amazing, and somehow I hope that we can get through the teen years leaving that power in place for adulthood. I have to add at least one more step to the two in the first paragraph. Not everyone will agree but prayer and meditation are essential to knowing what our daughters need from us. Go team.

Laura

While this book had a whole bunch of interesting anecdotes, there were nothing more than anecdotes. The fact that a bunch of her patients manifested particular characteristics doesn't lead to the ability to generalize about adolescent trends in general, as Pipher does here. On the contrary, it's just as reasonable to believe that her patients, many of whom presumably came to her through referrals from other patients, were a self-selecting group, each of whom referred people to Pipher because she had proven talented in dealing with particular adolescent issues. If Pipher had written a book about the traits of her individual patients, most of whom were adolescent girls, that would have been one thing, and probably would have been a pretty good book. But when you're trying to make broad pronouncements about social trends, as Pipher is, anecdotes about your group of patients won't cut it. At all.

Artistlace

This book has been around since the mid 1990s, and I finally took the time to read and enjoy it.I wish I'd picked it up sooner, but most of the themes and issues discussed in the book are just as relevant today and when the text was written.Mary Pipher has a writing style that lets you in on her perspective and personal experiences, while educating you and making the reader more conscious of the world that surrounds them. Personal anecdotes are sprinkled among the interviews and descriptions of adolescent girls and their parents that Mary met and treated while writing this book.It is a sad fact that so many young girls entering adolescence loose their androgynous interests and distinct personal traits in favor of becoming a more marginalized version of themselves based on what they feel society expects of them.A friend recently suggested that we need a sister publication of "Reviving Ophelia" written with adolescent males in mind, as surely they struggle with gender roles and expectations upon entering adolescence as people of all genders do.

Jaclyn

This book has opened my eyes to the complications of adolesence that my daughter is just on the cusp of. Although the book is 10 years old, and I am significantly younger than the author, I found the topics to be very relevant even today. I personally relate better to the author, who was a child in the 50's, and feel that the problems girls were beginning to face in the 90's are worse than I faced in the 80's and are still very much a probem today, probably more so. Reading about all of the challenges my daughter is about to face in this new stage of her life was vey helpful and opened my eyes to things I would not quite have understood if I hadn't read this book. I related to the author's admitted naivety until college (for me it was late high school), and recognized many of the problems the girls faced in the book as problems still rampant today. It actually saddened me that 10 years later we have made so little progress toward protecting our young girls and educating our young boys. This book spurred many conversations between my daughter and I, by helping me see the questions I should be asking, the red flags I should be looking for, and brought me to a more understanding and open minded approach in these regards. Hopefully, having these conversations at an early age, and frequently going forward, will help ease the painful transition through adolesence for my daughter and I, and protect her from some of the bigger problems many girls now face due to lack of education and a constant feeling of misunderstanding.

alysa

I HATED this book. Is there NO hope for our girls? I found this book to be very negative about the future of girls trying to grow up in this world. Although the book is outdated I did not find a whole lot that related to the average American girl. The author generalizes about girls as a whole based upon her patients that are in therapy. This is not to say that girls are not going to have issues, but I don't think the majority of girls are going to have the depth of issues of the girls in this book. I found the book very repetitive and stated the problem over and over and offered no advice on to how to help girls in the turmoil of adolescents. Don't waste your time!

Marianne

I am too angry about the idiocy of the author of this book to write a review. It started off somewhat promising, although it's horribly crafted and hokey. It took a downward dip when Pipher mentioned that she honored a client's request not to "tell [the client's:] parents" that the client's boyfriend had abused her. That's against the law, Mary Pipher. You gotta report that shit--perhaps not to the parents but definitely to the police for sobbing out loud.

Julia

I've been meaning to read this for ages, since it's the book that directed the media's attention to the troubles faced by adolescent girls. Since it was written two decades ago, it's definitely dated. Some of Pipher's concerns might even seem laughable to girls and young women today - I snickered a bit at the "crack is being sold in our suburbs!" bit, especially considering drugs like meth are today far more of a concern in Pipher's midwestern community. Despite this, the book has aged pretty well. The feminist concern that young women lose themselves in order to please others is still a major social issue, although I think there are some encouraging signs of progress. Pipher's argument that women are overemphasizing decisions to dress sexily as "feminist," rather than examining the social pressures that lie beneath this desire to be desirable, is even more necessary today. Pipher writes clearly and compassionately about a range of young women, including her troubled clients and several successful and happy young women she interviewed. Anyone interested in the intersection of feminism and psychology should read Reviving Ophelia because of its influence and insight.

Natali

I won't lie: this book scared the shit out of me. Please Lord, never let my daughter become a teenager! This is a serious topic that not enough research addresses: the confusing messages confronting adolescent girls and how little understood they are in our culture. I wanted to read it in order to understand the challenges my daughter will face, although it was written when I was a teenager so it helped me understand a lot of the things I went through as well. I wanted to gain an adult's perspective so that when it is time to face these issues, I can be ready to do so with empathy. I highly recommend this book to anyone raising girls. She addresses the dangers of body image, sexuality, drinking, drugs, and the importance of the relationship with both mother and father in separate chapters. Most of our daughters won't face the extreme circumstances as the case studies in this book - I hope!! - but we can learn from them and hopefully use this knowledge to make the world a better place for all of our children.

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