Your teenage years are a roller coaster ride of hormones and uncertainty – a time when you know everything and nothing; a time when you are waiting for life to begin. The 51 short pieces in Some Girls Do are true stories from some of Australia’s most well know women writers about their teenage years. They range from simple tales about first crushes to heartbreaking stories of loss and abuse.
The collection opens with Kathy Lette’s humorous piece on breast size. Like Goldilocks, her problem has always been having too little or too much; she’s still waiting for just right. In sharp contrast Bessie Bardot describes the anguish of her father’s sudden disappearance, and not discovering his fate until many years later. There are stories from girls who fit in and girls who do not. Girls whose issues are small in the greater scheme of things, and girls who experience tragedy on a Shakespearean scale.
One of the strongest lessons to be taken from this collection is that fitting in is not necessarily the goal in your teens. As Kim Wilkins says in her piece ‘Fitting in sometimes means compromising yourself’. The girls who seem to have it all often turn out to be the ones whose lives take a limited path, as if having it all too soon turns out to be a curse rather than a blessing.
The writers in this collection are from a variety of backgrounds; poor, wealthy, city, country, anglo-celtic, recent migrant, indigenous. The only quibble might be the apparent universal heterosexuality of the writers. Some pieces appeal more than others and the diversity of the authors and writing styles makes this inevitable. For me the stories that work best are those written for the collection rather than the few that have been abridged from other autobiographical pieces. Many of the writers display an astonishingly raw honesty about their lives. Whilst on one level this is no doubt personally cathartic, it still takes tremendous courage to put remembered humiliations into the public sphere.
This is an ideal bedtime book with short pieces that can be digested in one sitting. It makes a great gift for any woman, after all, we’ve all been teenagers and we’ll all find something within it that strikes a chord. It would also be perfect for teenage girls struggling with their own angst.
A percentage of royalties from sales of Some Girls Do will go to SISTER2sister, which is a 12 month mentoring program for teenage girls at risk of abuse and/or neglect, and provides positive female role models to inspire and motivate them through a program of goal setting and achievement, making a difference to their lives. It is part of Life Changing Experiences.
Editor of Some Girls Do, Jacinta Tynan, is an author, columnist and journalist. Her first book was Good Man Hunting (Random House 2005). She is a news presenter with Sky News Australia and a weekly columnist for the Sunday Telegraph. She was inspired to write by her great-uncle, John O’Grady (Nino Culotta) author of the 1960s bestseller They’re a Weird Mob. She is also a keen actor. As a child she wanted to be on Young Talent Time, taking ballet lessons and practicing singing into a hairbrush. She is a patron of SISTER2sister.
Some Girls Do… My life as a teenager edited by Jacinta Tynan is published by Allen & Unwin (reissued 2010), RRP $24.99