There are a plethora of books being published with wonderful biographies of women aimed at our young girls. We probably own an abnormally high number of them since E is absolutely fascinated by them. These are books about female scientists, athletes, politicians, artists, activists, and more. These are books about women and girls who have made names for themselves somehow. They are people to admire and look up to. They show hardship and perseverance, strength and grit. What they are not is your average teenage girl just living her life. I can understand that, why would you write about just anybody? Well, journalist Masuma Ahuja has done just that and it is phenomenal.
(Thank you to Algonquin Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for a digital review copy)
Girlhood: Teens Around the World in Their Own Voices is a raw, honest look at what it is like to be female and a teenager across the world. Masuma Ahuja’s project tried to ascertain what it was like to grow up as a girl in Iraq. What keeps a girl up night in New York or in Nigeria? But this isn’t just a book of biographies. Just as answers to any of these questions of what life and friendship is like, their homes definitely impact their responses. Ahuja wants girls to understand where these other girls are coming from. Even if you were to ask 5 girls in the US the same question, you would get very different answers based on where they live and their upbringing. Each girl in the book has a few diary entries, but there is also information from Ahuja about the girl from interviews and about the area that they live in. When reading about all of these girls, readers can see how different the areas are that they come from, but also how very similar they all are. Here is an example…
The book began as a series for the Washington Post platform The Lily before becoming this fascinating scrapbook-style collection that offers insight into the day-to-day lives of thirty ordinary teenage girls from twenty-seven countries and showcases their struggles, heartbreaks, and successes through personal diary entries and photographs. If you haven’t heard of The Lily yet, I hadn’t, you should absolutely look into it and sign up for their feed however you get your news.
Girlhood: Teens Around the World in Their Own Voices is fabulous. It is different. It is important. These are real girls that our own young girls can relate to. These are real lives lived across the globe in different kinds of situations, showing the bigger world that is out there. Girlhood is the ultimate in giving us mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors.
The following is information from the publisher.
What does a teenage girl dream about in Nigeria or New York? How does she spend her days in Mongolia, the Midwest, and the Middle East?
All around the world, girls are going to school, working, dreaming up big futures—they are soccer players and surfers, ballerinas and chess champions. Yet we know so little about their daily lives. We often hear about challenges and catastrophes in the news, and about exceptional girls who make headlines. But even though the health, education, and success of girls so often determines the future of a community, we don’t know more about what life is like for the ordinary girls, the ones living outside the headlines.
From the Americas to Europe to Africa to Asia to the South Pacific, the thirty teens from twenty-seven countries in Girlhood share their own stories of growing up through diary entries and photographs, and the girls’ stories are put in context with reporting and research that helps us understand the circumstances and communities they live in. This full-color, exuberantly designed volume is a portrait of ordinary girlhood around the world, and of the world, as seen through girls’ eyes.
About Masuma Ahuja:
Masuma Ahuja is a freelance journalist reporting on gender, migration and human rights. She was previously a producer at CNN and national digital editor at the Washington Post. She uses words, photos and emerging media to report and tell stories about gender, migration and the impact of politics of people. Her projects have ranged from long-form stories to sending disposable cameras to women around the world to document their days to crowdsourcing voice mails from Americans about the impact of the 2016 election on their lives. She was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014.