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Monday, November 7, 2011

{Book Review} Beautiful Girlhood and The Companion Guide to Beautiful Girlhood

I have been surrounded by boys my entire life.  First an only girl with two brothers, later in the workforce, and eventually as a houseparent to eight boys, in addition to my own three kids.  I'm outnumbered even in my own house, my husband and two sons trumping us girls in the gender war.

The testosterone-fest that is my life makes me truly appreciate the unique feminine beauty that I feel blessed to experience by watching my only daughter grow from an infant to a young woman.  Raising girls is so different in so many ways from raising boys, and as my onliest daughter grows into a young lady, I really enjoy the feminine bond we are strengthening every day.

This is one reason I was excited when I had the opportunity to read and review Beautiful Girlhood revised by Karen Andreola and The Companion Guide to Beautiful Girlhood by Shelley Noonan and Kimberly Zach. Another was that I had the opportunity to meet Shelley Noonan recently, and hear her share some of her story. This is a woman who understands the power in embracing your beautiful girlhood.

Beautiful Girlhood was originally written by M. Hale and published in the 1940s, but was revised in the 1990s by Karen Andreola. The book has beautiful, descriptive langauge and reads like a nonfiction version of Little Women or some other classic literature. I sort of felt, reading it, like I should be donning a corset and bonnet, and I don't say that to be contrary. The book retains a classic nature that transcends pop culture in favor of addressing timeless issues like trust, purpose, and modesty.

The Companion Guide to Beautiful Girlhood is exactly what its title suggests -- a companion on the journey through these topics, a springboard for discussion, growth, and connection between, for example, a mother and daughter reading the set together. It offers a Bible study outline, journaling topics, discussion questions, and real-life application of the issues that coordinate to the text.

While it was suggested to me that that the books were for use with girls ages 8 and up, I found that the language made my 8-year-old's eyes glaze over, and she wasn't really able to comprehend much of it. I continued reading the book and companion guide solo, and have used the topics as a springboard for more age-appropriate discussion of the topics.  A tad academic in nature, despite its flowery language, it will likely go back on the shelf for a few years until I feel she can maintain a clearer grasp on the text.

There was one concerning element for me in the books, and that was the underlying message that all women were purposed to be wives and mothers, and that this is necessarily the desire of all women. I know many women in Christian service who are not mothers or wives who have struggled against the evangelical culture's message that they have less value to the Kingdom because of their choice, or even circumstances beyond their choosing, such as the arenas of infertility and singlehood.  I am cautious about furthering the notion in this day and age that a woman's value is determined solely by her family (or future family, or lack of family as the case may be), because it is my sincerest belief that her value is determined by God's love for her, whether she marries or has children or learns how to keep a home.

All that said, I will probably revisit this set of books when my daughter is older, mainly because it is offers an excellent springboard to discuss topics in the book on which we agree and those with which we disagree, to encourage my daughter to have a healthy self-concept of her internal feminine beauty, but also an invitation to engage in topics like purpose and family where the lines may not always be clear.


If you're interested in purchasing Beautiful Girlhood and The Companion Guide to Beautiful Girlhood, I invite you to use my affiliate links in the post above, or below, through Amazon.com.  Thank you!

Also, please note, the authors offer an additional companion text titled Beyond Beautiful Girlhood, appropriate for older teen girls/young women.


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