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Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2002, 301 pp., $14.00 paper.
Girl in the Mirror: Mothers and Daughters in the Years of Adolescence by Nancy Snyderman and Peg Streep. New York: Hyperion, 2002, 373 pp., $24.95 hardcover.
Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters by JoAnn Deak with Teresa Barker. New York: Hyperion, 2002, 287 pp., $23.95 hardcover.
Queen Bees & Wannabees: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, & Other Realities of Adolescence by Rosalind Wiseman. New York: Crown Publishers, 2002, 336 pp., $24.00 hardcover.
When Mary Pipher published Reviving Ophelia in 1994, she made public and immensely popular the image of the early adolescent girl as a girl in crisis. Besieged by accounts of girls as victims of a girl-poisoning culture, of depression, suicide, eating disorders, teacher neglect, poor parenting, and sexual violence, parents sat helplessly on the sidelines wondering what they could do to prevent the loss of their early adolescent daughters as "they crash and burn in a social and developmental Bermuda Triangle" (19). Yet hope reared its head for a brief time in the mid- to late 1990s when a new era of Girl Power tantalized parents into thinking that the Girl in Crisis era was over. Strong, athletic, independent, confident, smart girls were touted as the new feminine ideal. However, in 2002, a series of books published in the popular press, including the four reviewed here, cautioned parents, particularly mothers, that the threat of the Bermuda Triangle still lurks, and Girl Power sports a darker side.
Queen Bees & Wannabees and Odd Girl Out are the most widely known of the four books reviewed. During the summer of 2002, the authors of these books were mainstays on morning talk shows, Oprah, and the New York Times Magazine. Both books present an all too familiar story: underneath their nice facade, girls are backbiting, catty, jealous, and duplicitous; they will stop at nothing to get what they want. According to these authors, contemporary girlhood is a world where girls inflict harm on others, typically girls within their own social network, through words, silences, nonverbal gesturing, and subtle exclusionary practices. The girl power culture with its contradictory messages and the media are partially to blame for the …