Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Review: Girls on the Edge

From time to time it is valuable for me to browse the aisles of the library or bookstore to see what is new on the "parenting" shelves. Girls on the Edge:the four factors driving the new crisis for girls by Leonard Sax, is a fresh look at some of the problems I see in my office every day. Sax who is a family physician and a psychologist singles out four issues that he believes contribute to what he sees as an epidemic of angst and an ill-defined sense of self among US girls. These four are:
  • confusion over sexual identity or how girls are confusing sexuality with premature sexualization
  • the cyberbubble or how excessive social networking replaces real friendships
  • obsessions or how the pusuit of thinness, a fit body, or other notions of perfection lead to disaster
  • environmental toxins or how chemicals in our midst may be contributing to early puberty and sexualization.
To me this is a waste basket of current hot-button issues, and the book moves quickly from interesting and helpful observations to unproven speculation. One strong aspect of the book is Sax's discussion of the impoverished souls and spiritual lives of many teenage girls. This is a common theme among the prolific evangelical Christian writers for parents, but it is interesting to see Sax handle similar issues from a more ecumenical perspective. He discusses the "anorexia of the soul" of many of the driven, over-achieving, stressed and fragile girls he describes.

I would give this book a Bminus, but would say it is worth a quick read (from the library) and may galvanize parents to be more and more aware of the cultural pitfalls that await teenage young women.

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