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Being a Girl: Navigating the Ups and Downs of Teen Life    by Kim Cattral order for
Being a Girl
by Kim Cattral
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Kim Cattral, who plays Samantha Jones in the TV series Sex and the City, shares her own perspective on the vulnerabilities and challenges of life as a teen - and how to overcome them - in Being a Girl. The book is enhanced by photos of the author at different ages, and by Marf's hip, amusing illustrations of girls in a variety of contexts (he does hilarious cartoons of Kim's Blue Jeans Test and a fashion timeline).

The book opens on A Note from Kim, who tells us that reaching her fiftieth birthday has made her 'take stock of where I've been, where I am, and where I'm going.' She tells us that she wrote the book to share 'my personal journey through some of the same challenges and decisions that you're about to face as your world starts to change and expand - so you can be more aware of what's going on around you and inside you, and navigate with a little more skill.'

The author goes on to reflect on her teenage years in the first chapter, which shares the book's title, Being a Girl. She talks about self-esteem, 'the glue that holds you together when things get uncomfortable or tough.' She looks at pressures on girls in the past and in the present - especially the current emphasis on body image - with engaging subtitles like Fake It Till You Make It and Six Ways to Keep Your Cool. She recommends a diary, advises readers to stop beating themselves up, and to think of failure as a beginning.

Next up is Seeing Beauty - she covers The Secret of Style and the teen brain's Passion for the New, offers recipes for Natural Beauty masks, recommends Skin-Care Essentials, and discusses eating disorders and the importance of sleep and exercise. Kim continues, in We Are Family, to look at teen relationships with parents (sometimes affected by poor choices and hormone surges), siblings, teachers, mentors, and friends. She gives great advice on handling conflicts, bullying, and toxic cliques.

She looks at how 'differences play out' in All the Young Dudes (with their emotional challenges and unpredictable organs), the trials of dating, guys who are keepers, the chemistry of love, and dealing with breakups. In Sexual Intelligence, she addresses the role of imagination, the right time ('If you're wrestling with the question, you're not ready'), being informed about STIs, and when not to have sex.

Kim Cattral ends by telling us in Girl Meets World that growing up 'happens by living and the choices you make' and takes patience. She advises on essentials for your first home - and for dealing with roommates - and emphasizes the importance of first impressions. If I had a daughter, I would give her a copy of Being a Girl and encourage her to read - and re-read - this upbeat font of wisdom.

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