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The Twisted Sisterhood: Unraveling the Dark Legacy of Female Friendships
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The Twisted Sisterhood: Unraveling the Dark Legacy of Female Friendships

2.87  ·  Rating Details ·  192 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
You know all about the trouble with “mean girls” and competitive, judgmental women. Maybe you had a cruel high school experience straight out of the movie Carrie. Maybe you find yourself anxious because your daughter’s peers are excluding her. Maybe you’ve been harassed or marginalized by other females for being something they were or are not: fat, acne-prone, brainy, a di ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 26th 2010 by Ballantine Books (first published 2010)
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Jill Wasberg
Mar 10, 2011 Jill Wasberg rated it really liked it
Valen gets into some pretty emotional territory, and I believe she shines a truthful light through research and self-conducted qualitative and quantitative studies and surveys on how female-on-female "hating" can cause serious scars and lasting damage.

What was most interesting to me about this book was the backlash the author professed to receiving after it was published. The backlash was from women who called her an anti-feminist "woman basher" and said she was being overly sensitive to the in
Oct 10, 2010 Marcia rated it it was amazing
“In some ways, you could say, this book is as much an apology as it is a battle cry,” says Kelly Valen in her new book The Twisted Sisterhood. Thus, the tone is set for this brave and smart book about the pain and joy of female relationships.

I’ve always been one of those overly sensitive types that can relive every criticism uttered to me since middle school. Apparently I’m not alone. Valen’s study of over 3000 women discusses the long-term suffering from “social wounding,” an insidious form of
May 18, 2011 Kristina rated it it was ok
Every writer needs a good editor. A good editor becomes increasingly important when the author is trying to organize a large amount of data into something informative and readable. This book has some important insights into the the pitfalls of female relationships (I would also argue that they apply to all intimate relationships - spiritual friendships, familial relationships, romantic relationships). However, it was a book in desperate need of a really good editor - as the book stands, it is ba ...more
Sep 28, 2011 Peggyk rated it it was amazing
Had to order and wait a few days to get this from my local shop since it's from last year but it was worth it. There's a lot of truth and wisdom here. Someone on the jacket called it an "important book" and I agree. My eyes glazed over a few long-winded parts that weren't as relevant to my life but those were few. This is odd but I would actually recommend starting with the last chapter about sisterhood and the author's final statement and then going back to the beginning just so you're clear on ...more
Jan 23, 2011 Jenny rated it it was ok
This book is reading like a medical journal. It gives lots of people's opinions and survey outcomes with a bit of the author's experiences mixed in with all of it. There is no story connected with this book, but a lot of information on the relationship with today's women. There was a lot of work put into this book and it is very informative, but stories are easier to read and follow. The author used to be a lawyer so it made sense to her to make a book filled with lots of research.
This book gav
Aug 09, 2013 C rated it liked it
This is sort of a cheaty "I read" book - I read some, then flipped through here and there for the rest. I've got so many books I've piled up for myself to read that I couldn't devote the time I should have to this.

But I got the gist: we act like jerks to each other.

Be. Kind.

Even when it sucks.

That's all. Make that the focal point of all your interactions with other humans and you, at least, will not be hurting others. And if we can't stop ourselves from being hurt, at least we can do that much
Jay Shahwan
The author takes a no-nonsense look at female relationships and the lifetime trauma that so many of us have suffered at the hands of our "friends". Whether you're 24 or 64, memories of girlfriend skullduggery can be as present as if it were yesterday, coloring your life in ways both subtle and overt. Valen argues that the mean girl syndrome is alive and well, and offers some very cogent arguments as to why women need to take a closer look at the manner in which we relate to one another on all le ...more
Mary Ellen
Apr 21, 2011 Mary Ellen rated it did not like it
The author handed out a survey. Then wrote a book about the survey. No real, original insight. Just referenced the works of others and added personal anectdotes. Disappointing.
Nov 04, 2014 Vivian rated it it was ok

This is important subject matter that merits more thoughtful treatment than it receives here. One might think that Valen is just the person to write on this issue, given her painful experience of being blamed by her sorority sisters for her rape. But I think that may be what handicaps her: the issue is just too painful for her, and she lacks perspective. Whatever the case, this is less a nuanced look at a complex issue than it is a generous helping of familiar mean-girl, queen-bee and green-eyed

Oct 26, 2012 Lisa rated it it was ok
As one may glean from the title, this book explores the ways women can be so cruel to one another. The genesis for the book, I learned, was a New York Times essay the author wrote about the cruelty and rejection she received from her sorority sisters in college when she looked to them for support after she was raped. (I have not read the essay, but plan to.) Subsequently, she surveyed women from all walks of life around the country (and overseas) about their experiences, and collected them here. ...more
Mar 11, 2012 Miri rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book. I agreed with Valen's basic premise that mean-girl behavior plagues women long after they've left high school and that it's much more harmful and prevalent than many women like to acknowledge.

However, I could barely get through this book due to the author's style and tone. It was extremely conversational, but in that trying-too-hard kind of way. Some examples:

"I have to come clean here and admit that while I wrote this book, I took my little surfing breaks and
Oct 29, 2011 Monica rated it it was ok
Shelves: i-quit, book-club
This book rambled on and on at the surface of interest without digging deep into content. The most interesting asset to the book was discussing its content with a small group of women. Essentially, the author wrote a newspaper article asserting women’s relationships are nasty, and then she did a large scale online survey with 2,000 respondents seemingly confirming women are nasty to other women. The book was rife with inserted examples from her survey to illustrate her point that woman suck. Oth ...more
Beth Kelly
Nov 11, 2010 Beth Kelly rated it it was amazing
If you come at a book like this with your science/statistician hat on (and why would you when dealing with issues of humanity, relational aggression, and emotions?), you could naturally find something to quibble with, whether it's criticism based on methodology or anecdotal bias, etc. But I don't think books in this genre are trying to win a numbers game or say that all of us are horrible meanies. It's about reflecting on issues of the human condition and, in this case, our delicate female relat ...more
Jan 06, 2011 Jenny rated it it was ok
I don't know what I was expecting to get out of the book, but I didn't get much.

I got this book because a friend mentioned it and I thought, "Why was I so catty in high school? Why were my friends? And why didn't we get tired of it?" So I picked it up. But I got to the end and felt like, "So what was the point she made? Or any point she made?" I guess the point was "Be nice." Duh.

I also felt like I couldn't relate to the book at all, and disagreed with its basic premise that cattiness and compet
Jan 10, 2011 Diane rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The premise of the book interested me, and I wouldn't have picked it up had I not perceived something "twisted" in the "sisterhood." I liked that the author was a little self-deprecating in that she acknowledged she didn't have answers and just wanted to start a dialogue. On the other hand, I was looking for more of an answer to the "why" of it all, and some enlightenment on what to do about it. There wasn't much of that beyond suggestions to be nicer, don't tolerate meanness in your kids or the ...more
Jan 20, 2011 Angela rated it liked it
This book was a very extensive exploration about the "mean girl syndrome" in which some women lack the supportive, nurturing, and loving care toward each other that they extend to the men in their lives. It provided real life examples of otherwise decent women being almost abusive to other women, from friends and sisters to co-workers and strangers.

It was refreshing to discover a whole sisterhood of women who have also experienced alienation, discrimination, and abuse from other women and the s
Nov 28, 2010 Emily rated it liked it
How many pages can one really write about mean girl syndrome in adulthood. Who wasn't the perpetrator and the recipient of meanness as a teenager. But as an adult? There were a lot of things that were interesting: such as the different types of mean girlisms that take place in oh, say, play groups, the PTA, etc-- contexts which I know nothing about. I DID feel vindicated that the author wrote about female-on-female meanness in professions, including nursing. So, I'm not crazy it's really true ac ...more
Apr 02, 2013 Liz rated it it was ok
Quickly skimmed this book one afternoon - stopping at some parts to read thoroughly and others not. Got the sense it's this authors way of trying to define & understand the complexity of female relationships with a strong biased starting point of her own experiences. She calls women to action in changing the way they treat one another... But I'm not sure I found all her writing up to that point motivational or inspiring... More depressing and pushing one to anger. Interesting concepts backed ...more
Oct 06, 2013 Ashley rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book. The ideas presented are interesting and will definitely strike a cord with other women who have shared similar experiences. However, the author's writing style makes it difficult to really like this book. While it is divided into chapters, it feels unorganized and rant-like, and the tone is highly conversational and disorganized. The author will start discussing a topic, and then switch thought streams within the same section. Based on the results of the author ...more
Feb 17, 2011 Steph rated it liked it
Shelves: just-read
Perhaps the most powerful message of Valen's Twisted Sisterhood is that you are not alone in your experiences and feelings regarding other women. This point is hammered home throughout with the goal of training each of us to recognize those "Queen Bees and Wannabes" in our own lives. Valen also offers hope- suggestions for ways to curb the girl-on-girl cruelty no matter what your age-group, and urges the reader to pass these lessons on to the next generation. Overall this book doesn't present an ...more
Apr 03, 2011 Selah rated it it was amazing
Read The Twisted Sisterhood and understand in a whole new way the dynamic behind those who would be snarky, mean spirited, and just in general awful representations of women.

It all began with Valen's self admittedly dumb foray into a frat party where she was date raped after consuming too much booze. Instead of support from her sorority, she got the blame and shame game. Fast forward to the writing of the book with a questionnaire sent out to women of all ages, sizes, social standings, and colo
Mar 23, 2012 Gia added it
Wow, I learned so much from this book! After 40+ years of being a female, you would think I knew everything I needed to know about how to relate to other women. Wrong! This book was very insightful, and I use this information on a daily basis since I encounter many different women professionally, plus being a daughter and a mother. The reason I decided to read this book was because I heard Valen speak on NPR and I could relate to many things she discussed. I ordered it on Amazon immediately, and ...more
Jun 03, 2011 Stephanie rated it liked it
Definitely a lot to think expose of the seamy underbelly of women's interpersonal relationships, the backstabbing, gossiping, alliance-shifting that starts in middle school and never quite goes away. It's interesting how this is considered "normal" or "typical," and yet has devastating consequences. This book ends with an action call to return to civility and change things! As a mom of 2 daughters, I definitely worry for them more than myself. This is definitely an issue I'll be explo ...more
This one was just ok for me. I - fortunately - haven't had any terrible experiences with women as far as friendships go, so this didn't hit as close to home for me.

The author was prompted to write this book after not being supported by her sorority sisters after she was raped in college. The effects for her were far-reaching and long-lasting, as she has found it difficult to get close to women or form meaningful friendships with them since.

Overall, it was pretty repetitive and not very relatab
Jan 11, 2011 Andrea rated it it was ok
If you've read Phyllis Chesler and others on the nature of women's relationships, this is more of the same. The author does (as she states) offer a different angle in that she surveyed a demographic cross-section of women specifically about the "shadow side" of women's friendships and it's great to read their own words on the subject. The survey is included in the appendix and did allow me to rethink some things.
Feb 07, 2013 Ellen rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
This is an interesting genre, and I really enjoyed the NY times piece this author wrote about her own experiences with female relationships. However, her exploration of this topic doesn't contain enough new information or useful conclusions to merit a whole book on the subject. I agree with all her findings/observations on how women can treat each other, (and how we should treat each other) just didn't really walk away with anything new--anecdote after anecdote wasn't enough for me.
Lori Wilson
Oct 23, 2012 Lori Wilson rated it it was ok
Skimmed this book too. Ive been working with women for over 20 years now and I am unfortunately very much aware of how mean we can be to each other...even sisters! The book pretty much told me a ot about what I already know. Once again, if you are a young female confused about all the betrayal you've ecountered with the females in your live, its a good read for that. Sad thing is, I don't think anything will ever change the way many wmen treat each other in this country.
Miriam  Kohler-Pogash
Aug 10, 2011 Miriam Kohler-Pogash rated it it was ok
For most of my conscious life, I've grappled with certain big questions surrounding female friendship. Some of these questions are: Why can't most women just be straight-forward? Why are secrecy and nuanced messages so often the norm? What do these nuanced messages really mean, and why do we gleefully undermine one another in both important and unimportant venues? So far, this book does not provide the "key to the kingdom" I was hoping for.
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