Monday, October 31, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Please Read (if at all possible)

Please Read (if at all possible): The Girl Project Kate Engelbrecht

From the title page:

In 2007 Kate Engelbrecht began sending cameras and questionnaires to teenage girls across the country. She asked them to use the camera to communicate their view of themselves ad the world around them. The questionnaires were based on the famous Proust Questionnaire, aimed at revealing a person’s true personality. Eventually, nearly 5,000 girls between the ages of 13 and 18 took part in the project. Girls from all parts of the country, of different backgrounds, faiths, and races, participated in what became know as The Girl Project. It is an account of teenage girlhood, experienced and communicated as only teenage girls know and understand.

The book is mostly the photographs that were taken, along with a few full questionnaires and some selected answers.

The photographs tend to show similar themes or poses, or direct juxtapositions. Every so often we’ll get someone's questionnaire-- in their handwriting. Then, we’ll get just one question and a few pages of answers from that question-- in each person’s handwriting.

I have a few complaints-- there were a few quotations that were used multiple times, like someone would have their entire questionnaire used and then some answers would also appear on the group answer section. If over 5,000 girls responded, surely they could have chosen someone else’s answer for the group answer section. Also, some questionnaires indicated that answers continued on the back, but the book only used the first page, so we didn’t get all of the answers.

That said, I loved this book. I love that it shows all types of girls and combats the popular culture view of girls as shallow, vapid, and mean. It shows the anger they have at being portrayed in such a way. It shows girls who feel stuck in small, conservative towns and can’t wait to get out. It shows girls who love where they live. It shows girls who love their boyfriends, girls confessing love to their best friend, girls who can’t get boys to notice them, girls who don’t want boys to notice them. It’s an important book and I think it’s one that teens will like, especially as it’s mostly photographs.

It’s a fascinating glimpse into the lives of real girls. Girls who aren’t nearly as messed up as we worry they are. Girls whose answers read exactly like mine would have when I was in high school. If at all possible, you should read this.

Check out today's Nonfiction Monday Roundup over at Jean Little Library.

Book Provided by... my local library

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