Girl Land
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Girl Land

2.75 of 5 stars 2.75  ·  rating details  ·  308 ratings  ·  78 reviews
The acclaimed and provocative book about what girls have lost and gained in the 21st century: "A compelling, convincing case for more parental involvement in girls' lives" (Kirkus Reviews). Caitlin Flanagan's essays have sparked national debate. Here she turns her attention to girls, and how the biological and cultural milestones shape their budding identities. Adolescence...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by Reagan Arthur / Back Bay Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

First of all, this book is a quick, engaging read. I finished it in a single afternoon. It is not academic in tone or content, and the intended audience appears to be parents of adolescent girls or soon-to-be adolescent girls (not quite what I was expecting). I found it incredibly difficult to relate to this book on all but a few points, as it is rife with stereotypes. I don't mean that the book merely describes stereotypes, I mean that...more
Dec 03, 2013 Alena marked it as i-gave-up  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I won this through First Reads. 30 pages in and I'm already annoyed with the author. Lots of hyperbole: "Every woman I know feels that..." Really? Every woman?
Lee Anne
What I thought this book was going to be: a series of essays about the milestones of puberty (dating, getting your period, losing your virginity) and how the cultural view on them has changed through the years.

What this book actually is: a series of essays in which generalizations are presented as facts, boys are presented as all-id troglodytes out to rape your daughters, and those daughters are introspective, fragile flowers who must be protected from the wolves at the door waiting to ravish th...more
A few years ago, I was about 24 at the time, I was walking on Lexington Avenue near 85th St, in the middle of the day. I over heard the teenage boy in front of me (couldn't have been more than 14) call the teenage girl next to him several names, including ho,bitch etc. What did she do? Shrug! I was stunned. Needless to say, I stopped the young "gentlemen" asked him to repeat himself and when he refused, told him he may never call women those names again ever! I then turned to the young "lady" an...more

Seriously, folks- finally, one of my least favorite writer's bullshit essays in one single volume! Her patriarchyftwsquee articles make my ovaries recoil in relentless horror.

If you liked this book, remove me from your friend list (here and on Facebook, Twitter, etc) ASAP. Thanks.

UPDATE: So, I actually tried to pick up this fuckwittery and attempted to read it. Mission abort due to danger of permanent brain damage due to headdesking. I do have a few sugges...more
Autumn Blues Reviews
Girl Land mostly encompasses Flanagan's spotlight view of affluent girls and women on the west coast and their twisted perceptions due to mainstream Hollywood.

I had mixed feelings about Girl Land and it was certainly not what I expected. Being the youngest daughter of seven children, three others of which were girls, I could relate to her during some instances in Girl Land. For example the catcalls from the boys and at first feelings of confusion then later when I got older sort of missing that...more
Ashley Moonshoes
I've never read anything by Caitlin Flanagan prior to receiving this book through First Reads and won't bother with her other books or articles in the future. Based on the intriguing cover and blurbs I was expecting a book with insightful and witty essays about girlhood, maybe some critical exploration of current culture and was more than disappointed.

Flanagan's description of girlhood is nostalgic in the worst way and broadly assumes that all girls are insecure and weak and that boys are just...more
I know that one of the complaints with this book is that the author is talking about the past. That is what makes this book interesting. It shows how far things have come since when the author was going through "girl land".

I think every woman who has a daughter that is about to turn into a teen needs to read this to refresh her memory of what her teenage years were like for her and how they were when she entered them. Then read the last chapter of this book to see how changed things are now.

I l...more
This is a well written, excellently researched, engaging book on how the lives and expectations of adolescent and teenage girls has changed over the years. By examining major markers in a girls life that generally signal her ascent into womanhood and how those now occur solidly when society still thinks of her as a girl, Flanagan looks at how this can take a toll on girls.

It's definitely a read for those who either have or work with girls regularly. For me it really reminded me how difficult bei...more
Janet Whalen-Jones
Expecting an historical comparison of various aspects of growing up female in different periods of time, I was disappointed to find a rambling personal memoir. One chapter, designated "Moral Outrages", instead of comparing a variety of parental panics over the decades concentrates on the media created pseudophenomenon of the "rainbow party" (Not LGBT politics)and the author's personal dismay about this topic. This could have been a fascinating social history. It wasn't. Flappers, Anne Frank, Jud...more
I first heard about this book from my husband. As the parents of 3 soon to be 4 little girls anything about raising and parenting girls catches our attention. This book caught my husband's attention because the author was being interviewed on NPR. All of the callers were fairly hostile toward her ideas on safely helping teenage girls through to adulthood and the conclusions she ends the book with. Here are a few examples: Make her bedroom an Internet-free zone, Get her father involved in her dat...more
"Girl Land" was a thoroughly interesting read: I found Flanagan's opinions on modern girlhood, sex, mass media and female rites of passage to be very insightful and developed. Her narrative style struck the perfect balance between eloquence and fluency - the book's prose hung together in almost uncanny cohesion. Her talent for providing substance with flavor was both refreshing and intriguing, and I plan to read more of Flanagan's work in the future. Also, it was a really quick read, which is al...more
Jessica Jeffers
I've been out of the reading loop for a while as social requirements and the presence of a male friend have kept me busy, so it's rather appropriate that this is my first toe-dip back into the world of bookish things. Flanagan presents here something of a survey of the ways in which the transition from girlhood to womanhood have changed over the course of the last century.

This should be interesting and, for the most part, I agree with her overall thesis that the transition if particularly diffi...more
How do I negative-star a review??
Awful from the word go - chapters of irrelevant Caitlin teen memories, blanket statements thrown out as accepted fact (yes, I'm sure all men with single moms grow up to be sexually predatory and every woman on earth counts adolescence as her most trying time), capped off with the absolute lack of interaction with any current inhabitants of Girl Land (I found no evidence that she spoke to ANY modern-day girls/young women in 'researching' this mess). Never mind tha...more
Apr 20, 2012 Donna rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: females and parents of females
Shelves: nonfiction
I've enjoyed Caitlin Flanagan in the Atlantic and looked forward to this book. She makes some interesting points about the transition of females from "girls" to "adolescents" brought about by both physical changes and cultural norms. Though about 10 years older than Flanagan, I identified with many of her observations. As a mom of two daughters, I constantly worried while reading whether I had given them all the information I should have while growing up. While the book skews toward white, upper...more
Since I just had a baby girl I figured I'd get a jump on her teenage years early and read this. It's interesting and makes some clever/insightful points, but then gets weird at the end when the author (who doesn't actually have daughters, just sons) seems to advocate government censorship (?!) as the answer to the problem of girls growing up too fast with too many pressures. She also bases a lot of her observations on "research" from the diary she kept herself as a girl. I was hoping for this to...more
Lauren Donoho
Unquestionably one of the most poorly-researched, poorly-argued, and deeply problematic books about girls that I've ever read - and seriously, there are a lot of sexist books about the mental development of young women, but Flanagan really hits it out of the park in the Sexism World Series here.

I can only link to this blog:, where the most offensive quotations are illustrated with cat photos. It fairly summarizes my feelings about this book.
ugh - I thought this would be an excellent book to read to gather insight into today's teenage girls. I couldn't even get through the first essay on dating. The author begins the essay about dating and how it is different now then it was in the past but then quickly moves onto marital sex and the lack of knowledge that men and women had years ago - huh? what? I thought we were exploring dating? I wanted to throw the book across the room - needless to say I have put the book down in disgust and d...more
Women are different from men. Don't let your teenage daughter surf porn in her room. There, that might save someone a few hours of reading. I was hoping for something a bit more insightful. But I'm not a woman, so I'm sure I'm missing the point. I guess I was expecting more of an examination of the pressures of growing up in todays world, and less of a historical romp of what Prom was like in the 20s.
I had high hopes for this book, but it really left me feeling irritated. I think what it came down to is that I felt no connection to Flanagan's descriptions of the journey from childhood to adulthood in this book, not in my own childhood and not as the parent of a daughter in the midwest. (Perhaps we are just lucky to avoid Pimps and Ho's parties for after prom in this area.) When she admits in the end that she has sons, no daughters, I guess that really solidified for me that this book lacked...more
Haters gonna hate.
There are a lot of negative even nasty reviews of this book, which is sad. Flanagan has some unusual and maybe not great ideas at the end about how to change some of the negative aspects of female adolescence/early adulthood. But that's the last 20 pages. The rest of the book, her identification of the issues and description of the problems/changes over the last hundred years is very well written and persuasive.
Men and women/boys and girls are different. That may be biological...more
Bonnie Morse
Kind of sickening. The style of writing reminds me of Christian devotionals, which is fitting as the author fetishizes female adolescence as if it were a religion. I feel really bad for her sons. And myself because I paid to read this book.
Adam Wolfe
This screed checks all the boxes: classist, sexist, heterosexists, and cissexist. Flanagan spins a myth about how all girls operate, from sources drawn mostly from her own privileged childhood, then she chastises reality for butting up against her myth. What Girl Land really is, is one perspective and a creditable one, but only one: that of white, middle class, cishet girls who are sentimental for a childhood of responsibility delayed past the point where the world and it's boys were willing to...more
Jun 20, 2011 Danielle marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: society
Finally, a book I didn't hear about on NPR (though I hope to). The author's articles in The Atlantic magazine are outstanding, I can only imagine her book is terrific. Due out next year.
Feb 01, 2012 Kaitlyn marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I'm not going to lie, I want to read this just so that I can hate on it with a vengeance.
Ladies, remember what it was like being a teenager? Caitlin Flanagan explores the teenage girl from the early 1900s to today in her book Girl Land.

Girl Land is non-fiction, but there are parts that I wish were fiction. Like this troubling, yet true, passage in the book's first chapter on dating: "if someone is to be forced into sexual situations, or beaten up, or left with the consequences of pregnancy, if someone is to get the worst of a variety of terrible things that can happen in the privacy...more
Mar 17, 2012 Anie rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Moms
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

I'm not sure what I was expecting. At times this book was engaging and informative. And others it was so misinformed and so far off base to be laughable. Caitlin Flanagan obviously has nothing in common with the average American girl. Perhaps it is because she did not raise any girls in modern times. She's basing all of her ideas on news articles and apparently teaching high schoolers on the west coast. This is not what life was like fo...more
Feb 16, 2012 Katelin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Katelin by: Goodreads Giveaway
I won this book through Goodreads Giveaway, and I am so glad that I did. This book was more than just a trip down memory lane for me, but it is also a book that I will be able to use while raising my daughters. "Girl Land" is a book that takes every experience of that awkward time in every girls life and explains it to a point that it all makes perfect sense. Not only do I plan to allow my girls to read this somewhere around age 14 (due to the graphic sexual material) but I am also pushing for t...more
Kristin Shafel Omiccioli
I found the prose of this book to be engaging and conversational. I enjoyed the brief analyses of related literature (Are you there, God? it's Me, Margaret, Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl, etc.) and many of the author's personal anecdotes. It didn't bother me so much that much of the discussion was about white, suburban, upper/middle-class and the author's own experiences because she freely and often admits this throughout. Even though I personally didn't relate to some of the chapters, espe...more
I enjoy reading essays, so I give this book its high rating based on the fact that the prose are well written. Finding it to be a perfect marriage of the personal essay to the book review, I enjoyed reading it straight through from start to finish without a break.

Having raised two daughters, now in their twenties, and being the grandma of three young granddaughters, I find Caitlin Flanagan's recently published book, Girl Land, particularly relevant to me. In comparing the teen scenes of generat...more
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Book Giveaways: Giveaway: Girl Land 1 12 Jan 20, 2012 09:48AM  
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Caitlin Flanagan is a four-time finalist for the National Magazine Award. Her essays have appeared in Best American Essays 2003, and Best American Magazine Writing 2002, 2003, and 2004. She has made numerous national media appearances. She has been the subject of profiles and critiques in the New York Observer, Ms., The New Republic and various other publications. She lives in Los Angeles with her...more
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“There is a paradox at the heart of contemporary Girl Land, and this paradox makes the emotional experience of female adolescence more intense and difficult than ever. On the one hand, never in history have girls had so many opportunities, or shared so fully in the kind of power that was only recently reserved for boys. Girls now outperform boys on the SAT; women outnumber men in college, and we are nearing a point at which women will outnumber men in the country’s law and medical schools.” 2 likes
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