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A gripping set of stories about the forces that shape girls and the adults they become. A wise and brilliant guide to transforming the self and our society. In her powerful new book, critically acclaimed author Melissa Febos examines the narratives women are told about what it means to be female and what it takes to free oneself from them. When her body began to change at el A gripping set of stories about the forces that shape girls and the adults they become. A wise and brilliant guide to transforming the self and our society. In her powerful new book, critically acclaimed author Melissa Febos examines the narratives women are told about what it means to be female and what it takes to free oneself from them. When her body began to change at eleven years old, Febos understood immediately that her meaning to other people had changed with it. By her teens, she defined herself based on these perceptions and by the romantic relationships she threw herself into headlong. Over time, Febos increasingly questioned the stories she’d been told about herself and the habits and defenses she’d developed over years of trying to meet others’ expectations. The values she and so many other women had learned in girlhood did not prioritize their personal safety, happiness, or freedom, and she set out to reframe those values and beliefs. Blending investigative reporting, memoir, and scholarship, Febos charts how she and others like her have reimagined relationships and made room for the anger, grief, power, and pleasure women have long been taught to deny. Written with Febos’ characteristic precision, lyricism, and insight, Girlhood is a philosophical treatise, an anthem for women, and a searing study of the transitions into and away from girlhood, toward a chosen self.


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A gripping set of stories about the forces that shape girls and the adults they become. A wise and brilliant guide to transforming the self and our society. In her powerful new book, critically acclaimed author Melissa Febos examines the narratives women are told about what it means to be female and what it takes to free oneself from them. When her body began to change at el A gripping set of stories about the forces that shape girls and the adults they become. A wise and brilliant guide to transforming the self and our society. In her powerful new book, critically acclaimed author Melissa Febos examines the narratives women are told about what it means to be female and what it takes to free oneself from them. When her body began to change at eleven years old, Febos understood immediately that her meaning to other people had changed with it. By her teens, she defined herself based on these perceptions and by the romantic relationships she threw herself into headlong. Over time, Febos increasingly questioned the stories she’d been told about herself and the habits and defenses she’d developed over years of trying to meet others’ expectations. The values she and so many other women had learned in girlhood did not prioritize their personal safety, happiness, or freedom, and she set out to reframe those values and beliefs. Blending investigative reporting, memoir, and scholarship, Febos charts how she and others like her have reimagined relationships and made room for the anger, grief, power, and pleasure women have long been taught to deny. Written with Febos’ characteristic precision, lyricism, and insight, Girlhood is a philosophical treatise, an anthem for women, and a searing study of the transitions into and away from girlhood, toward a chosen self.

30 review for Girlhood

  1. 4 out of 5

    Adam Dalva

    Really loved this smart, insightful essay collection. I’ve taught “Intrusions,” which is included, since it came out, and the rest of the book lives up to it, forming a cohesive whole.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jami

    A gorgeously written, perfectly calibrated investigation into the traps, paths, and challenges of being female in this world. It's a stunner of a book. A gorgeously written, perfectly calibrated investigation into the traps, paths, and challenges of being female in this world. It's a stunner of a book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bree Hill

    "I would have liked the movie immeasurably better if, instead of being about a beautiful, smart virgin who acquired an unearned reputation and then cleared her name and bagged the super-nice boyfriend, it was a movie about a girl who actually had extremely hot sex with her queer best friend and then fcked a bunch nerds for Home Depot gift cards and was still presented as a sympathetic protagonist." If you havent read Abandon Me by Melissa Febos, it is one of my all time favorite memoirs. Ever. I "I would have liked the movie immeasurably better if, instead of being about a beautiful, smart virgin who acquired an unearned reputation and then cleared her name and bagged the super-nice boyfriend, it was a movie about a girl who actually had extremely hot sex with her queer best friend and then fcked a bunch nerds for Home Depot gift cards and was still presented as a sympathetic protagonist." If you havent read Abandon Me by Melissa Febos, it is one of my all time favorite memoirs. Ever. I love it so much and I think you should go, immediately and read it. Girlhood was brilliant. It's a stunning, real glimpse into the difficult navigation and trappings of being a girl, evolving as a girl, the situations we find ourselves in and how we carry them with us at times unbeknownst to ourselves. "When I think about healing in the abstract, I imagine a closing-up, or a lifting-up. In my fantasies, healing comes like a plane to pull me out of water. Real healing is the opposite of that. It is an opening. It is dropping down into the lost parts of yourself to reclaim them. It is slow, and there is no shortcut. Sometimes what I mean by healing is changing. A lasting, conscientious change in the self is similar to one in society; it requires consistent tending. It is sometimes painful and often tedious. We must choose it over and over." "You can simply say, 'I'm done,' or, 'This isn't working,' he told us. As he spoke, I felt my eyes prickle with tears. What a simple and gorgeous idea that was. I thought of myself as a Girl and as a Younger Woman-with all those boys and men and even women who I had never wanted to touch me. I thought of all the women whose stories I now carried in me. What if we had all been taught that we could walk away whenever we wanted? What if we had learned that saying no was a Necessary way of taking care of ourselves?" I can't wait for this book to release so I can haul a copy and mark it all up with my favorite orange highlighter, hearts, smiles and WTFs..because there are plenty in this book. Melissa Febos is the cheerleader all girls have needed at some point. Girlhood is brutal but can also be confusing as it is also one of the best times in your life, this book is such a must read!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this INCREDIBLE book. I had to give myself a few days to even write this review, as the reading experience was so powerful for me. I've read many many books in the long essay, memoir mixed with non-fiction and philosophy genre, and this is one of the best. I'm going to buy it for at least 5 of my friends as soon as it's available. Wow. This book was so deeply moving, and intellectually energizing. I feel like it needs at least three or four reads for me to gras Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this INCREDIBLE book. I had to give myself a few days to even write this review, as the reading experience was so powerful for me. I've read many many books in the long essay, memoir mixed with non-fiction and philosophy genre, and this is one of the best. I'm going to buy it for at least 5 of my friends as soon as it's available. Wow. This book was so deeply moving, and intellectually energizing. I feel like it needs at least three or four reads for me to grasp the full depth of every connection Melissa Febos made throughout the book. This book proves the maxim that what is most personal is most universal. Though our backgrounds are quite different, many of the lines Febos wrote felt as if they came from my journal. This should be a must read for all people who have ever identified as femme or female. Endless gratitude for Melissa Febos for writing this phenomenal and important book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Kasbeer

    Everything Melissa Febos writes breaks me open then sews me back up. This collection is stunning and necessary. It named and examined so many experiences I've had growing up female in a patriarchal society, and helped me reclaim myself in the process. I cannot recommend it enough! Everything Melissa Febos writes breaks me open then sews me back up. This collection is stunning and necessary. It named and examined so many experiences I've had growing up female in a patriarchal society, and helped me reclaim myself in the process. I cannot recommend it enough!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    GIRLHOOD is the book I waited for my entire life, words with which to articulate the unnamed perils of being female, being girl, the invisible social structures that altered my life and discolored my personality forever. This book is a reclamation, a victory, a triumph. Febos reclaims the girl lost to us all by finding language for the ways we are negated, disowned, distorted, used, and abused as well as the ways we unwittingly contribute to our own repression. I want every human to read this bo GIRLHOOD is the book I waited for my entire life, words with which to articulate the unnamed perils of being female, being girl, the invisible social structures that altered my life and discolored my personality forever. This book is a reclamation, a victory, a triumph. Febos reclaims the girl lost to us all by finding language for the ways we are negated, disowned, distorted, used, and abused as well as the ways we unwittingly contribute to our own repression. I want every human to read this book. What I appreciate in art is truth and Febos has woven the truth of being girl in this culture in which we are embedded into a nest in which we might finally rest.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Magnificent.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Wow, this was difficult to read - because it was so honest and heartbreaking and REAL. The way Febos fearlessly faces the social conditioning and resulting internal loathing and external danger that many American girls live with (many without acknowledging or even KNOWING) is powerful, and I had to keep putting the book down to take a break because it was so overwhelming and DARK. My favorite essay was the last one, where she visits France as an adult on a path of recovery and reclaiming of herse Wow, this was difficult to read - because it was so honest and heartbreaking and REAL. The way Febos fearlessly faces the social conditioning and resulting internal loathing and external danger that many American girls live with (many without acknowledging or even KNOWING) is powerful, and I had to keep putting the book down to take a break because it was so overwhelming and DARK. My favorite essay was the last one, where she visits France as an adult on a path of recovery and reclaiming of herself, and compares it to her first visit to France as a very young adult caught in the throes of addiction, anguish and loneliness. Both of the tales intertwined in that essay were so vivid and powerful for different reasons, and it was a great way to end the book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    The best book of 2021. I was a little scared to read this book, because Melissa Febos writes in a way where it feels like the book is reading me too. I should have known better to be scared though. Girlhood is full of tough ideas and memories, but Febos also writes in a way where it's like she's holding me by the hand, using her memories as a guiding light. Her use of language is stunning. Her essays are like long meditations on an extended metaphor, weaving research and colloquialisms with her me The best book of 2021. I was a little scared to read this book, because Melissa Febos writes in a way where it feels like the book is reading me too. I should have known better to be scared though. Girlhood is full of tough ideas and memories, but Febos also writes in a way where it's like she's holding me by the hand, using her memories as a guiding light. Her use of language is stunning. Her essays are like long meditations on an extended metaphor, weaving research and colloquialisms with her memories to ensure you pick up what she's putting down. It makes her writing deeply relatable and just plain gorgeous. Gilding the prose are beautiful black and white art panels that set up each chapter's major images and resonant quotations. The biggest contribution Febos makes to our literary culture is her definition and exploration of "empty consent" – acquiescence granted neither enthusiastically nor directly coerced. Instead, "empty consent" emerges from fear of retaliation and habituation to discomfort. Generations of patriarchy (reinforced by racism and colonization) claimed women as sexual property. Febos illuminates how the spiderwebbing cracks of this objectification linger in women’s contemporary relationships to their bodies and boundaries. She interviews maligned women, many of them sex workers (like Febos herself used to be) to trace these cracks until she finds the center, the shared impact with myriad effects. In a literary culture endeavoring to heal the effects of intergenerational traumas, Febos's writing is absolutely necessary. She has a way of giving names to what seemed unspeakable, which makes them easier to understand. This book is not about defining an essential idea of “girlhood,” but rather it finds shared strings of solidarity among women’s unique lives. Febos uses Audre Lorde’s essay “Uses of the Erotic” as a guiding star. We must encounter “the chaos of our strongest feelings,” as Lorde writes, which will open our capacity for joy and lessen the fear of our difference. Girlhood untangles Febos from indoctrination to reclaim the more feral, sublime Melissa who found strength in the harmony of her body and mind. If you like Audre Lorde, Elissa Washuta, or Carmen Maria Machado, you will love this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Abriana

    I don’t even know how to talk about this book. It was brilliant and beautiful, but hard to read because of how much it seemed to reach into me. I will say I struggled with the first couple of essays in here. I wasn’t sure I would click with Melissa Febos’ writing style. I wasn’t sure the material was something I necessarily wanted to get into. But, this book got stronger and stronger the more it went on. I can’t deny how much it began to grip me. Febos captures vulnerability in a very specific, y I don’t even know how to talk about this book. It was brilliant and beautiful, but hard to read because of how much it seemed to reach into me. I will say I struggled with the first couple of essays in here. I wasn’t sure I would click with Melissa Febos’ writing style. I wasn’t sure the material was something I necessarily wanted to get into. But, this book got stronger and stronger the more it went on. I can’t deny how much it began to grip me. Febos captures vulnerability in a very specific, yet undeniably understandable way. This book was a challenging reading experience for me, because it felt like I was being slapped in every essay I read. I mean, it was emotionally jarring how acutely Febos describes particular experiences, particular feelings. With “Intrusions” and “Thank You For Taking Care of Yourself” especially, I was just astonished at the way she is able to describe such a singular yet constantly present overlapping of emotions and thoughts, pushes and pulls. Febos writes of her own interior life so boldly that it reached into mine and woke me up in a way. As long as it took me to actually make my way through all of the essays, I was also constantly thinking about and talking about this book. These essays made me confront some experiences of my own that I would rather have not thought about, but ultimately I’m grateful that I did. I’m grateful to know I am not alone in them. And Febos’ vocalization of her experiences, her creation of something as concise as an essay, helped me begin to vocalize my own and lean into ways I can create something from my secrets too. I am so happy to have read this and to have read it all the way through. There were many times I wanted to give up, because it was too hard and too uncomfortable. But, ultimately there is so much warmth here in addition to all of that big, scary emotion. I mean this in the nicest way possible, but reading this felt like a really tough therapy session. And, I’d like to book another appointment. Great read, will definitely be keeping my on Febos and looking to read more from her. Thank you NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA for an e-arc!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Katie Coleman

    As I read this new collection of essays by Melissa Febos, I wondered, with each successive essay how my own transition to adulthood might have been different had I read this as a teenager, or better yet, discussed its themes with my mother, or my father, or if excerpts of this had been discussed as part of our high school's sex ed. classes. These chapters felt decidedly more essay than memoir; we get Berger and Lacan and Foucault as well as Febos' usual exploration of Greek mythology. However, t As I read this new collection of essays by Melissa Febos, I wondered, with each successive essay how my own transition to adulthood might have been different had I read this as a teenager, or better yet, discussed its themes with my mother, or my father, or if excerpts of this had been discussed as part of our high school's sex ed. classes. These chapters felt decidedly more essay than memoir; we get Berger and Lacan and Foucault as well as Febos' usual exploration of Greek mythology. However, they are all grounded in Febos' own experience as a girl coming of age on Cape Cod, the emotional tenor of which she excavates so honestly and unflinchingly, it impossible not to read and reflect on my own awkward, yearning, insecure teenage self with perhaps as much compassion I've ever given her. Of particular note is Febos' discussion of "empty consent" in the essay "Thank You for Taking Care of Yourself" which centers the way women acquiesce to men's desires w/o first considering their own wants. This is, I think, what the viral New Yorker story "Cat Person" was getting at (and why it went viral) and Febos' clear and incisive take is very worthwhile. I found myself almost screaming "yes! yes!" while I read. Additionally of note are the essays, "The Mirror Test," which explores the term "slut" and how we often come to see ourselves as others insist that we are, and, "Thesmorphia," which considers Febos' relationship with her mother. What is so strong about this collection is, in my opinion, that it explains so much of what was unspoken throughout my own "girlhood" (cough: masturbation, emphasis on knowing how to give a blow job but not knowing how to ask a man to pleasure me, slut shaming, body shaming, the expectation that I be fully desirable but also fully unattainable and also completely responsible for that precarious balance), BUT in a way that is contextualized, intellectualized and also completely centered in Febos's own experience, making her as the writer on the page feel both wise and friendly. I highly recommend this book for literally everyone. I loved it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carin

    A couple of booksellers told me Melissa Febos was their favorite author, and those are STRONG words from a bookseller! Most of us are highly annoyed when we're asked for a top ten of authors, and we never volunteer that as it's SO HARD. So I immediately checked out her new book to see what the hype was all about. So Ms. Febos has an interesting background as a professional Dominatrix (that's the subject of her first book) and in her third book, she's addressing that in an oblique way, as this boo A couple of booksellers told me Melissa Febos was their favorite author, and those are STRONG words from a bookseller! Most of us are highly annoyed when we're asked for a top ten of authors, and we never volunteer that as it's SO HARD. So I immediately checked out her new book to see what the hype was all about. So Ms. Febos has an interesting background as a professional Dominatrix (that's the subject of her first book) and in her third book, she's addressing that in an oblique way, as this book is a series of essays more or less in chronological order that are about being a girl and becoming a woman. She starts each section off with a subject, such as when your body was first objectified by a man. How old were you? Thirteen? Ten? Eight? And then she writes her story, and she follows that with the stories of several other women, who mostly she talked with, and a few who wrote up their essays (Ms. Febos teaches writing, and I assume that's the origin of those other essays.) So the book is super #metoo as it's about objectification, assault, bullying, pressure to be and act in a sexualized manner, first kiss, first boyfriend, and so on. This book is not for the faint of heart, but it very much is for those looking for stories about how we all got to where we are in this day, in terms of personal experiences of the pressures--emotional, verbal and physical--that impact the healthy sexual development of girls into women.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Heather Moss

    I received an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This book is a series of personal essays about the author's relationship to her body, and her body's relationship to the world around her. I am probably not putting that right, but it was the most pithy way I could think to say it. I had to regroup after I started reading, because I was expecting something lighter. The essays are academically rigorous and often relate to the literature and philosophy of feminism, which I I received an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This book is a series of personal essays about the author's relationship to her body, and her body's relationship to the world around her. I am probably not putting that right, but it was the most pithy way I could think to say it. I had to regroup after I started reading, because I was expecting something lighter. The essays are academically rigorous and often relate to the literature and philosophy of feminism, which I know way too little about. But the experience of being an American girl and then an American woman, of rejecting one's own body even though it's wrong and self-defeating, of suppressing one's own feelings and needs to prevent embarrassing a man with rejection, of feeling afraid of sexual assault... all of that is in this book, and in me too. It took me to some dark places, but the writing is beautiful, and I am better for having read it. There are some gorgeous illustrations on the chapter title pages, too. I am going to seek out more work by the author.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ella Dawson

    Girlhood is another standout essay collection by Melissa Febos. I'm in awe of this book's unflinching reflection on the violent atmosphere girls are raised in, especially those of us who developed early and received sexual attention too young to escape it. Febos uses interviews, literature and film, as well as personal experiences, to unpack the challenging nuances of consent, power and our relationship to our bodies. My favorite essays traced the origin of the word "slut" and what it means to b Girlhood is another standout essay collection by Melissa Febos. I'm in awe of this book's unflinching reflection on the violent atmosphere girls are raised in, especially those of us who developed early and received sexual attention too young to escape it. Febos uses interviews, literature and film, as well as personal experiences, to unpack the challenging nuances of consent, power and our relationship to our bodies. My favorite essays traced the origin of the word "slut" and what it means to be a woman deemed *bad*, and a chilling look at the normalization of "peeping Toms" and the terror of being stalked in your own home. I want to reread her essay about "empty consent" once I've had some time to digest it: she unpacks how women negotiate sexual encounters they don't want in order to survive unscathed, and our lack of language to understand and describe experiences that don't leave us traumatized but are nonetheless assault or violations. Melissa Febos's intelligence, curiosity and talent drips from each page. This is an essay collection to return to again and again.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Megan Quinn

    3.5. This is a series of essays on different topics, some of which are likely to piss you off. From the slut-shaming and victimizing, to the stalking and gaslighting, Febos writes it as a memoir, but incorporates accounts from several women in certain essays. Most of it is stuff any woman will identify with to some degree. The cuddle parties concept weirded me out. I get the need for it, especially now. However, the idea of strangers asking to hold or touch me doesn’t make me feel at all comfort 3.5. This is a series of essays on different topics, some of which are likely to piss you off. From the slut-shaming and victimizing, to the stalking and gaslighting, Febos writes it as a memoir, but incorporates accounts from several women in certain essays. Most of it is stuff any woman will identify with to some degree. The cuddle parties concept weirded me out. I get the need for it, especially now. However, the idea of strangers asking to hold or touch me doesn’t make me feel at all comfortable. I’d be a big proponent of her “say no” practice during said events. The book itself is a little too prosaic for my taste, but that’s a style thing. Otherwise wholly readable. Some quotes I liked: “We are socialized from birth not to reject the hands of strangers, except in the rare case that they emerge from a suspicious van holding a lollipop. It is perfect training for a lifetime of consenting to touch one doesn’t want.” “I often looked eagerly forward to what I imagined as the sexual invisibility of middle age.”

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amie

    Girlhood by Melissa Febos is an important book that is focused on coming of age into girlhood - that awkward time of feeling young and innocent, yet becoming sexualized in the eyes of others. The author does an excellent job at integrating real life examples, her own and those of the women she interviewed, with psychology, pop culture, and literature. My only reason for not giving this book a higher rating is that while the narrative is unified by theme within each essay, the author jumps around Girlhood by Melissa Febos is an important book that is focused on coming of age into girlhood - that awkward time of feeling young and innocent, yet becoming sexualized in the eyes of others. The author does an excellent job at integrating real life examples, her own and those of the women she interviewed, with psychology, pop culture, and literature. My only reason for not giving this book a higher rating is that while the narrative is unified by theme within each essay, the author jumps around a lot with their examples, which for me made it harder to connect with the book and I often found myself having to reread a few sentences each time that happened. 3.5 stars Advanced copy provided courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Content warning: sexuality, nonconsensual sexual contact and rape, sexual harassment and assault, sexualization of pubescent girls

  17. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    SO. GOOD. A beautiful collection of memoir/essay - Febos uses her own experiences of growing up in a female body to examine how societal pressures pushed her away from feeling like her body was "hers" and into feeling like it was "theirs" (and, wow, I wanted to just curl up in that essay, "The Mirror Test") and how she slowly re-collected and reclaimed those missing parts of herself as an adult ("The Cuddle Party" is an incredible examination of consent). She also interviewed a number of other w SO. GOOD. A beautiful collection of memoir/essay - Febos uses her own experiences of growing up in a female body to examine how societal pressures pushed her away from feeling like her body was "hers" and into feeling like it was "theirs" (and, wow, I wanted to just curl up in that essay, "The Mirror Test") and how she slowly re-collected and reclaimed those missing parts of herself as an adult ("The Cuddle Party" is an incredible examination of consent). She also interviewed a number of other women who lent their experiences to sit beside hers and brought in examples from literature, psychology, sociology, etc. (there's something like six pages of sources). Not going to lie - it is tough to read in places because your heart breaks for her young self (and maybe for your own young self) as she was taken advantage of and labeled and negotiated consent out of fear. But totally worth it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Janilyn Kocher

    It's difficult to be a girl. There are stereotypes, conventional paradigms, and social pressure galore. Febos duscusses ,in her collection of essays, her experiences navigating girlhood. I found the parts where she is labeled in junior high and how people went along with it to be truthful. People can be vile and as long as it's not them being the object of the ridicule, they tend to go along with it. In some of her other essays, it was a challenge to relate as her experiences and lifestyle. Girl It's difficult to be a girl. There are stereotypes, conventional paradigms, and social pressure galore. Febos duscusses ,in her collection of essays, her experiences navigating girlhood. I found the parts where she is labeled in junior high and how people went along with it to be truthful. People can be vile and as long as it's not them being the object of the ridicule, they tend to go along with it. In some of her other essays, it was a challenge to relate as her experiences and lifestyle. Girlhood to be forthright and blunt and will likely resonate with a broad spectrum of readers. Thanks to NetGalley and. Bloomsbury Publishing for the ARC.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Many thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for this advanced reader copy! Girlhood by Melissa Febos centers on coming of age into girlhood. For many of us women, we remember ‘girlhood’ as those awkward years, typically around middle school times, where we still feel young, innocent, and vulnerable, but have begun to be sexualized by others. The book contains a mixture of her own experience, psychology of aging, literary references, and current cultural examples. This book is important and Many thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for this advanced reader copy! Girlhood by Melissa Febos centers on coming of age into girlhood. For many of us women, we remember ‘girlhood’ as those awkward years, typically around middle school times, where we still feel young, innocent, and vulnerable, but have begun to be sexualized by others. The book contains a mixture of her own experience, psychology of aging, literary references, and current cultural examples. This book is important and timely and I would encourage people, especially men, to read this. My only critique is that sometimes it jumped around and it would take me a minute to acclimate to the next section of writing.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lilly Dancyger

    Each new essay I read in this collection became my favorite essay of all time, only to be one-upped by the next one, over and over again. Febos tells truths about what it's like to be a girl that are usually hinted at at most, and more often ignored, but she shines a bright light on them and examines their innards. The use of language and the weaving together of personal, cultural, and scientific elements is masterful, and the ideas and experiences that are revealed along the way are so deeply h Each new essay I read in this collection became my favorite essay of all time, only to be one-upped by the next one, over and over again. Febos tells truths about what it's like to be a girl that are usually hinted at at most, and more often ignored, but she shines a bright light on them and examines their innards. The use of language and the weaving together of personal, cultural, and scientific elements is masterful, and the ideas and experiences that are revealed along the way are so deeply human and true they blew me away. Anyone interested in a feminist understanding of the world and/or the art of essay writing absolutely must read this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jill Reads

    “Girlhood” is a queer feminist memoir. It’s also a cultural study on how girls and women use their bodies to gain power, to fit in and to escape. And it’s a coming of age story about worth, trauma, boundaries, consent, shame, and perception. Melissa Febos is a force who reclaims her sense of self. Even if it takes a few decades and countless hours in therapy. She teaches us that it's okay to recover out loud and how to accept ourselves and our transgressions. After reading this book, I realize t “Girlhood” is a queer feminist memoir. It’s also a cultural study on how girls and women use their bodies to gain power, to fit in and to escape. And it’s a coming of age story about worth, trauma, boundaries, consent, shame, and perception. Melissa Febos is a force who reclaims her sense of self. Even if it takes a few decades and countless hours in therapy. She teaches us that it's okay to recover out loud and how to accept ourselves and our transgressions. After reading this book, I realize that I'm not nearly as broken as I think I am. And I can forgive the girl that I once was. Special thanks to Bloomsbury for access to the e-galley via NetGalley. This is my honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jeannine

    Following her memoir Abandon Me, Melissa Febos’s new collection of essays, Girlhood, examines belonging as integral to developing both female personal identity and group identity across several topics, including Febos’s early sexual experiences, her relationship with her mother, and her hatred of her hands, which she weaves into the narrative about her first sexual experience with a girl. The book also includes illustrations of hands and mirrors, among other things, illustrated by Forsyth Harmon Following her memoir Abandon Me, Melissa Febos’s new collection of essays, Girlhood, examines belonging as integral to developing both female personal identity and group identity across several topics, including Febos’s early sexual experiences, her relationship with her mother, and her hatred of her hands, which she weaves into the narrative about her first sexual experience with a girl. The book also includes illustrations of hands and mirrors, among other things, illustrated by Forsyth Harmon.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Zuly

    Reading this in tandem with How to Do the Work makes a powerful case to know the authentic self, stripped of the deeply rooted messages given embedded in women in girlhood or as infants by a patriarchal society. Women are objects, existing for men's pleasure, submitting to their dominance, and hating themselves for it. It's no small task to undo this kind of learning. The author's own life story and trauma and experiences add a living dimension to her arguments. Well done. Cape Cod; New York Reading this in tandem with How to Do the Work makes a powerful case to know the authentic self, stripped of the deeply rooted messages given embedded in women in girlhood or as infants by a patriarchal society. Women are objects, existing for men's pleasure, submitting to their dominance, and hating themselves for it. It's no small task to undo this kind of learning. The author's own life story and trauma and experiences add a living dimension to her arguments. Well done. Cape Cod; New York

  24. 5 out of 5

    John

    It will be quite some time before I can get Mellisa Febos out of my head. Her voice, her stories, her conclusions, her struggles. This memoir is intelligent, tragic, moving, and illuminating. I find myself wanting to talk to her, to ask questions, to defend (some members of) my gender ("You were possessed by the patriarchy!" she writes.) and to propose a followup project for her. (Seriously, Melissa, are you listening?) This memoir was not what I expected and I admired it as much as I did Leslie It will be quite some time before I can get Mellisa Febos out of my head. Her voice, her stories, her conclusions, her struggles. This memoir is intelligent, tragic, moving, and illuminating. I find myself wanting to talk to her, to ask questions, to defend (some members of) my gender ("You were possessed by the patriarchy!" she writes.) and to propose a followup project for her. (Seriously, Melissa, are you listening?) This memoir was not what I expected and I admired it as much as I did Leslie Jamison (even though I fulminated in the margins) and Jean Guerrero, among others.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Emmy

    This book is the Holy Bible for girls, boys, women and men. It should be made compulsory reading in every School curriculum in every country. It is a book you could read again and again and still not have absorbed its brilliance. It makes you want to pause after every chapter or paragraph and take stock of its contents and resonate with its narrative. Outstanding, 5 stars....

  26. 4 out of 5

    Judy Santos

    The author is so talented, I suggest you join NovelStar’s writing competition this April. If you are interested kindly check this link https://www.facebook.com/104455574751... for the mechanics of the writing contest this April and also, I am sharing your book in Facebook to help reach readers. Thank you The author is so talented, I suggest you join NovelStar’s writing competition this April. If you are interested kindly check this link https://www.facebook.com/104455574751... for the mechanics of the writing contest this April and also, I am sharing your book in Facebook to help reach readers. Thank you

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this one. I read Febos' earlier memoir, Whip Smart, a few years ago, and you can really see the way her lens has expanded here. Girlhood is sharp and compelling about what it's like to exist in the world as a girl and then a woman. This is memoir mixed with a bit of philosophical nonfiction in essay form, and the book really works as a related whole. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this one. I read Febos' earlier memoir, Whip Smart, a few years ago, and you can really see the way her lens has expanded here. Girlhood is sharp and compelling about what it's like to exist in the world as a girl and then a woman. This is memoir mixed with a bit of philosophical nonfiction in essay form, and the book really works as a related whole.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Dacus

    The memoir I’ve been waiting for! It’s smart but approachable, pulse raising but soothing, tough but warm. I felt a lot of kinship through the pages, I expect many people will. Caught myself nodding along as I was reading.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nathália Faula

    What a beautiful and powerful voice! I have absolutely devoured these essays and feel so grateful to have stumbled across Melissa Febos when I read "What my mother and I don't talk about". It's safe to say that I will be reading everything this woman wrote and will write in the future. What a beautiful and powerful voice! I have absolutely devoured these essays and feel so grateful to have stumbled across Melissa Febos when I read "What my mother and I don't talk about". It's safe to say that I will be reading everything this woman wrote and will write in the future.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Angel Mayumi

    I really enjoyed reading your book. I read enthusiastically and understood the story. ... If you have some great stories like this one, you can publish it on Novel Star, just submit your story to [email protected] or [email protected]

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