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Ophelia Speaks: Adolescent Girls Write About Their Search for Self

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  2,163 ratings  ·  87 reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
When Sara Shandler was 16, she read psychologist Mary Pipher's Reviving Ophelia . "Horror stories of eating disorders, self-mutilation, abusive relationships floated across the page," Shandler writes of Pipher's book on adolescent girls. "Pipher equated our contemporary adolescent experiences to Shakespeare's ill-fated Ophelia." Shandler identif
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 5th 1999 by Harper Perennial (first published January 28th 1999)
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Dec 19, 2011 added it
Shelves: recovery-focused
My life as a 17 year old (the entry I had published in this book) is definitely a different life than I life today!
Feb 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
This one was a little hard to categorize. I put it in the "parenting" section because the idea of reading adolescent girls' first hand perspective is valuable to parents, especially at a time when they may become less open with their parents. I put it in "psychology" because there are so many psychological issues that come up: depression, eating disorders, dealing with death, self image... And "feminist" because it is primarily about young women.

That being said, the very things that make this bo
Jul 31, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: teenage girls and caregivers of teenage girls
Shandler was a teenager when she read Reviving Ophelia and felt like her voice as a teenage girl was taken from her. She identified with the stories in the book, but objected that an adult (aka superior) was presenting experience and speaking for this group of people. So Shandler collected writings from actual teenage girls and let them tell their own story on a wide variety of topics.
I read Reviving Ophelia as an adult, ex post facto if you will. I found it to be an incredibly powerful and wel
Feb 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
This was an interesting book when it came out in 1999, and it was neat to see girls writing about their lives first-hand. Now, there's so many ways online to read about girls, via their own blogs or curated sites like Rookie; there's no need to ever update this book or make it again.

I would have been interested in seeing visual/art submissions, too, not just the poetry and prose that makes up the book.

There's a brief chapter on sexuality, but it only mentions lesbians and homosexuals, nothing o
Julie Suzanne
It's so old, but still relevant. The Guidance Counselor at my school is asking for books in our collection that deal with certain issues, and he loved Reviving Ophelia (as did I), so I sought this out. Shandler collected these essays and poems from girls back in 1998, before social media was an additional issue in these girls' lives. For this adult reader, who was a teen at that very time, the sentiments and experiences expressed ring true to my experiences then (and feel true today), but I have ...more
Sep 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Is it cheating to give 5 starts to the first book I was published in?
The Sci-Fi-Guy
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
(Look at my personal description)

Ophelia Speaks by Sara Shandler is a book that would catch your eyes if you want some unspoken truth. This book is a collection of sad but very true poems, essays, journals, and stories. These are multiple stories, poems, etc in each chapter which proved the amount of people that have been affected by these topics. This book contains subjects about death, self harm, abuse and sexual harassment, so be warned!!! This book over all gave me a wider perspective
Kelsey Dangelo-Worth
A collection of essays written by young, teenage women about their experiences from friendships and family relationships, to substance abuse, mental illness, the need to achieve and the need to be strong. The voices and the writing is a powerful window into what it is like to be young and female in our world, on the cusp of adulthood, searching for and defining the self. The writing is powerful and raw, emotional and beautiful. An important book to read; even if it isn’t perfectly written (parti ...more
Lisa Elkins
Mar 09, 2019 rated it liked it
I thought the compilation was down well and grouping of catagories was nice. The letters and poems were interesting and I found myself able to relate to many of the feelings. I don't remember really putting my thoughts or feelings down when I was younger, not a journal keeper. Now that I am older I can see the almost therapuetic value in putting those things down on paper. However, I felt that the writings of these girls would have held their value in a stand alone compilation. I felt the author ...more
Sep 15, 2017 rated it liked it
The essays compiled for this book are not super uplifting, but very necessary to show light on how teenage girls think and feel on life. Although all the essays were written in the late 90s, they are relevant for today. The one I found most interesting was "Growing Up a Churchless Child."
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
every girl should read this.
Madeline Zenas
Nov 10, 2015 rated it really liked it

My first reading by Sara Shandler has brought everyday problems throughout young adolescent girls to my attention. Everyone knows that people face dilemmas throughout their high school careers, but know one will know each detail or exact feeling like this book gives.Ophelia Speaks follows the stories of multiple adolescent girls with multiple different dilemmas towards their everyday lives in five parts.

Part one, known as “The Body Under Assault” gives examples based on eating disorders, self-in

Jul 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The Gist

Ophelia Speaks is a collection of true writings from teenage girls across the nation, highlighting their troubles.

What We Think

Reviewed by Living Destiny

So I picked this book up in eighth grade. My seat looked right at it for maybe four months before i decided to try it. (I’m pretty sure Mr. creepy-teacher-dude recommended it to me too). I thought, eh it’ll pass the time. It ended up being really powerful and some of it really shocked me.

Sara Shandler is not really the author. She’s more
Jan 12, 2010 rated it liked it
So far this book has done a good job of keeping me interested.There are alot of books out there that is like this,but don't quite connect with this book.I have read recent stories about young teenage girls wanting a desire for sex,losing friends,dying friends.I never knew that just girls would have this kind of problem.For girls it's all about independence.When you fall,you just bounce rigt back up like a bouncy ball.In this review,I wanted to focus on the chapter of a desire for sex.It's not th ...more
Dec 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
**In her own words**

A-now classic book, Mary Pipher's _Reviving Ophelia_ strived to convey the struggles of adolescent girls who were coming of age in "a girl-poisoning culture." However, 17-year-old Sara Shandler realized the best way to do this would be allow the girls to speak for themselves. Passionately engaged in her mission, Sara collected over 800 contributions from adolescent girls on a variety of topics including depression, eating disorders, substance use, self-harm, sexuality, relati
hmmm. weird book. i mean, i get it, in that it sought to let teens give voice to their own lives/struggles. the problem, i felt, was that there wasn't enough really there. the pieces of poetry worked better than the prose, for that reason, but i read through this so fast and really didn't learn anything new. i can't decide whether or not i think it was detrimental to have the seventeen year old author write intros to each piece - i think i would have preferred an older, more objective voice. or ...more
Gigi Blanchard
Jul 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
I loved this book and the idea but took away a star because I think the editor didn't need to sprinkle her own essays which didn't have the same substance as the ones she received. Those pages would have been better filled with people who had similar problems to the Reviving Ophelia, which is the book that preceded this one. A preface of the editor's story would have been enough, I found her inserts boring. BUT I give her credit for her brilliant idea in having girls write essays and appreciate ...more
tAliA :D
May 26, 2010 is currently reading it
I have been reading this book with a lot of short stories and i like it. This book is very interesting and tells the truth about many things that happen in peoples lives. I have been only reading a few short stories and they have been explaining about a girl and her father might of been killed by this very secret group of men who kill families. This other short story that i have read is about two sisters and the older sister goes to college and she starts missing her. They would always fight a ...more
Apr 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
"In adolescence, stickers and dolls mix with sex and depression" (279).
This book does the same, mixing the innocent with the unthinkable, the child with the woman.
Sara Shandler is a terrific writer and role model for young women to emulate. At 16 (inspired by Mary Pipher's Reviving Ophelia), she took a brilliant concept to a publishing company, received a contract, and went about making her vision become a reality. The output, this book, is a heart-wrenching look into the deepest secrets of ad
Destiny Mcsweeney
I enjoyed reading Ophelia Speaks by Sara Shandler. The format of the book was especially easy for someone who doesn't read often, like me, to read and genuinely enjoy. The stories are short but with enough detail, and accurately display the problems and experiences adolescent girls face today. There is a story for every girl out there. The short contributions show young women that they are not alone; that there are others who have or are dealing with the same issues. Anyone can read anything, bu ...more
This is a good companion book to Reviving Ophelia. The writers in this book are open about some of the most painful and most wonderful experiences of their adolescence and lives as girls. Shandler wins a lot of my admiration for putting this volume together at such a young age and for selecting a truly diverse and moving array of submissions. My only complaint is that Shandler's potions of the book feel a bit too long for me. I wish she had written a longer general introduction and then let the ...more
Mollie Heil
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this book for a high school sociology project, and it definitely fulfilled my expectations. I chose this book because I wanted to focus on teenage girls and how they work within our society, and this book really was the perfect candidate. It was made up of submissions from teenage girls around the world that were specific to certain topics like drugs, sex, family, friends, and much more. Each chapter was focused on one topic and consisted of 2-5 submissions. The submissions were all writt ...more
Sep 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all my friends
Shelves: 11thgradereading
This was the first book that I read in the first year of school, besides the books I read over the summer. Anyway after reading the book i thought that it was a very cool book since their were so many stories from teenage girls who have experienced so much in their life. I must say that some of the stories were really sad, but their were other stories that made me pretty happy. Even though each story was different it was pretty inspiring. The people who wrote stories have a lot of courage becaus ...more
Susan Connell Biggs
Jun 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: work-related
This was a powerful book. This book, her response to Mary Pipher's Reviving Ophelia, is a collection of essays, journal entries and poems written by adolescent girls about the challenges and joys they encountered as they searched for a sense of self. Some of these challenges are more difficult to read about: depression, suicide, and eating disorders. Others are more tender, some even funny as girls talk about important friendships and relationships. This book is a great gift the author gave girl ...more
Nov 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
I finally figured out why this book has taken me years to finish. I thought it was being too busy when I picked it up and put it down years ago. However, this book (inspired by "Reviving Ophelia" - brilliant but too detailed), is a collection of teenage girls responding to different topics (loss, drugs, etc). The concept of this book was good, but I felt like it only showed the negative. it was raw and real, but depressing and ultimately, unfulfilling because there was no conclusion to the stori ...more
Oct 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book was sparked by the "Reviving Ophelia" book. Reviving Ophelia is written from a psychologist point of view. This book is written by teen girls themselves. My small complaint about the book is that it covers a wide variety of topics (which is good), but it doesn't cover any of them in any sort of detail. Usually there are 2-3 submissions on each topic (sex, rap, drugs, violence, media, eating disorders, etc.).

Overall, it was interesting and sometimes heartbreaking to read about their st
Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I wish I had read this book when I was a teen. This book is filled with stories about life, heartbreak, and about courage and strength. I have to admit my favorite stories were the ones about feminism. That's where I really felt the strength of these women. They're all teenagers, but their writing is so powerful. They are all wise beyond their years and they give us a glimpse into our diversity. We are all different, but we all have similarities as well. This book helps to highlight those simila ...more
Jun 29, 2011 rated it liked it
My summer reading project this year is to read as many of the books on the AHA Summer Reading list I haven't already read. I'm starting with the 9th grade lists(Advanced English 9 and English 9. There are 15 books on the 9th grade lists--I had already read 3 and since summer started, I've read 3 more including Ophelia Speaks. I loved "Reviving Ophelia" by Mary Pipher which was the impetus for Sara Shandler to write this book. Good perspective on a variety of topics from the voices of teenage gir ...more
Ivy Paul-Van Os
I started this book because I really liked the concept of girls telling their stories. The topics are very heavy through most of the collection, but there are some lighter contributions as well. I really enjoyed those because it reminded me of my teen years (not so long ago...) and the way my mind used to think and ramble. The biggest thing I'm taking away from this read: I think it helped me see the value of writing down my own life stories in a more thought out format, even if it's just for me ...more
Sophie Redmond
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Opelia Speaks is an extremely interesting book. I was hooked on right after the first couple of pages. in the book, there are different sections that talk about different problems teenage girls struggle through. It was really interesting reading the entries that different girls had sent in to this author, about their lives. It also very sad reading about things that girls should not have to juggle with school and other things they do. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it for people ...more
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Sara Shandler is currently a student at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. A former president of the Connecticut Valley Region of B'nai B'rith Youth Organization, she has led, represented, and influenced large numbers of adolescent girls. She is a native of Amherst, Massachusetts.

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