The national bestseller Odd Girl Out exposed a hidden culture of cruelty that had always been quietly endured by American girls. As Rachel Simmons toured the country, these girls found their voices and spoke to her about their pain. They wanted to talk-and they weren't the only ones. Mothers, teachers, counselors, young professional women, even fathers, came to Rachel with heart-wrenching personal stories that could no longer be kept secret.
Here, Rachel creates a safe place for girls to talk, rant, sound off, and find each other. The result is a collection of wonderful accounts of the inner lives of adolescent girls. Candid and disarming, creative and expressive, and always exceptionally self-aware, these poems, songs, confessions, and essays form a journal of American girlhood. They show us how deeply cruelty flows and how strongly these girls want to change.
Odd Girl Out helped girls find their voices; Odd Girl Speaks Out helps them tell their stories.
I'm always the odd girl out No one talks to me I try to be friendly and speak out But I'm invisible, see?
You know, gossip is a natural thing in high school. I'm one of those girls that will do it right in front of you. I'll whisper at my friends and look at you the whole time.
Then we'll all cut up laughing. You know we're talking about you.
My best friend and I started being friends with this other girl. But she was fat. It was hard because she always wanted to go down the slide second and she would crush us. We didn't want to tell her she was fat, so we decided to drop her. Her mother called my mother and told her we were being mean. But we just couldn't be friends with her anymore.
-from Odd Girl Speaks Out
This sequel to the controversial bestseller Odd Girl Out compiles pseudonymous accounts of bullying, backstabbing and other nastiness that girls say they have suffered or perpetrated on other girls, intercut with brief commentary from political scientist Simmons. Simmons argues that for "thousands of years, women have been barred from showing aggression," although feeling jealous, competitive or threatened are "natural, appropriate" responses to the world we live in. Furthermore, because "girls are taught that expressing anger directly is wrong, many girls (and women) have no choice but to resort to secret acts of meanness." Although there is nothing "secret" about most of the nastiness the girls in this book describe-they're very verbal in their abuse, very obvious and deliberate in their shunning of other girls-there are more fundamental problems with Simmons's model. Since she finds aggression universal, there's no need to look for the happy girls. She does not include accounts from kind young women, even though their insights into living a good life might be instructive. Still, this anthology's target audience is the girl in trouble, and Simmons has some decent advice: e.g., don't take offense right away, don't assume you have an exclusive relationship with anyone, don't try to IM (instant message) your way through a fight, don't accept a bad relationship, get involved in positive activities, be kind when ditching an old best friend, etc. It's not much different from what teen advice manuals have always offered, but some readers may find Simmons's presumption-of-wickedness approach more disarming than the conventional, presumption-of-goodness literature. (Jan.) Forecast: Clearly a companion to Odd Girl Out, this low-priced paperback could find its way into the hands of younger readers, thanks to national author appearances (with contributors) and advertising. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.