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Ophelia Speaks: Adolescent Girls Write about Their Search for Selfby Sara Shandler
Synopses & Reviews
An Instructor's Guide to "
Ophelia Speaks edited by Sara Shandler Note to Teachers Themes: adolescence, body image, sexuality, friendship, self-identity, family relationships Before I began this project I had limited my perceptions to what I wanted to see; I saw my friends as others saw them— the high-functioning, popular, National Honor Society crowd about to enter the halls of the Ivy League. Sure we had problems, but we were basically healthy girls. That falsified vision was shattered by their contributions. With tear-filled eyes, I saw through the faÇ ade. With each essay my friends and acquaintances gave me, I became more shocked by the wide gap between what we have been told to think, what we say we think, and what we truly think. We regurgitate false pride on a whim, masking the reality of what we do to ourselves the harsh reality of being young and female gnawed at me. — from the author s introduction At age sixteen, Sara Shandler read Mary Pipher s" style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Reviving Ophelia, the national bestseller that candidly explored the unique issues that challenge girls in their struggle toward womanhood. Moved by Pipher s insight yet driven to hear the unfiltered voices of today s adolescent girls, Shandler yearned to speak for herself, and to provide a forum for other Ophelias to do so as well. And so she invited reflections from teenagers across the country, piecing together a complex, intimate picture of adolescent girlhood. A poignant collection of original pieces selected from more than eight hundred contributions," style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ophelia Speaksculls writings from the hearts of girls nationwide, of various races, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Ranging in age from twelve to eighteen, the voices here offer a provocative, articulate, and piercingly real view on issues public and private, from body image to dating, politics to parents, school to sex. Framing each chapter are Shandler s own personal reflections, offering both the comfort of a trusted friend and an honest perspective from within the whirlwind of adolescence. 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. Questions for Classroom Discussion Why do you think so many girls were willing to tell their stories? Do you think the fact that the author is herself a teenager played a role in obtaining so many and such frank contributions? Shandler acknowledges that even girls who understand that eating disorders are dangerous secretly admire the will power of their anorexic friends. Do you agree with this acknowledgement? What do you think causes so many young girls to obsess about their bodies? A frequent element in the various stories of" style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ophelia Speaks is an overall feeling of inadequacy. Why might this pervasive feeling lead to such concrete problems as eating disorders, abusive relationships, self-mutilation, and addiction? Many of the girls who wrote about dark problems were, on the surface, perfect girls— smart, pretty, and popular. Why do youthink teenagers fall prey to such problems when they appear so outwardly happy? The author maintains that adolescent girls are caught in the crossfire between where we have been told we should be and where we really are. Self-directed girls are sometimes lost. She uses a friend s phrase to sum up the struggle: I m afraid of the sound of my own voice. Why might someone fear their own voice? Who or what is trying to silence that voice? The media is frequently accused of promoting unrealistic images and unattainable goals to society. What are some of these images and goals? Why are adolescent girls so susceptible to them? Why does the media persist in feeding these images to the public? What issues might adolescent boys write about if they were to compile a" style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Hamlet Speaks? What kinds of ideals and goals do you think the media promotes to young men? What pressures does society place on its adolescent boys? Topics for Writing Assignments The writings selected for" style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ophelia Speaks are organized into five sections: The Body Under Assault; Family Matters; The Best and the Worst of Friends; Touched by Desire; and Overcoming Obstacles and Coming into Our Own. Chapters within each section are devoted to specific topics, and each chapter is introduced by the author. Using the following excerpts from the contributors to "Ophelia Speaks, ask your students to write about these subjects. Racism In my heart I know that I am a good person, with a good heart. I will not allow someone else s ignorance affect who I am and how I feel.But sometimes, I wish I were little again. I did not have to face a lot of racism. If I did, maybe I didn t catch on. I didn t understand it, because it was too cruel to comprehend. Stress Who is to blame for my pain and suffering? Is it my mother for being the overly pestering parent and never getting off my case? Is it my school for giving me endless hours of homework? Is it society for trying to ruin my life? Or is it me for letting all these people and establishments get to me, and for taking it way too far? When it comes down to it, I put the stress on myself I constantly worry that I am behind and then have to run (sometimes too fast) to catch up. The speed is both difficult and unnecessary. Sexually Transmitted Diseases My throat was dry, as I said to the lady peering through the plastic window at me, I m here for an HIV test .My blood has been at the lab for the past week. My body is tight and shaking as I walk toward Planned Parenthood to find out the results. I can only think, Nothing is worth this fear. Date Rape Sometime
At age sixteen, Sara Shandler read Mary Pipher' s Reviving Ophelia, the national bestseller that candidly explored the unique issues that challenge girls in their struggle toward womanhood. Moved by Pipher' s insight yet driven to hear the unfiltered voices of today' s adolescent girls, Shandler yearned to speak for herself, and to provide a forum for other Ophelias to do so as well.
A poignant collection of original pieces selected from more than eighthundred contributions, Ophelia Speaks culls writings from the hearts of girls nationwide, of various races, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Ranging in age from twelve to eighteen, the voices here offer a provocative and piercingly real view on issues public and private, from body image to boys, politics to parents, school to sex. Framing each chapter are Shandler' s own personal reflections, offering both the comfort of a trusted friend and an honest perspective from within the whirlwind of adolescence.
In these pages, you will see your best friend, your daughter, your sister--and yourself. At once filled with heartbreak and hope, in these pages Ophelia speaks.
In response to the bestselling "Reviving Ophelia," this extraordinary book captures in poignant and provocative prose the candid voices of "Ophelias" coast to coast on issues both public and private.
About the Author
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.
Table of Contents
Body under assault. Media-fed images ; Eating disorders ; Self-inflicted wounds ; Intoxication ; Rape and sexual abuse — Family matters. Mothers ; Fathers ; Sisters and brothers ; Disintegrating foundations ; No safe place ; Preganancy ; Death in the family — The best and worst of friends. With the support of friends ; Friendship lost ; When friends die — Touched by desire. Innocent attractions ; Seduced by sex ; Diverse sexualities ; Manipulated and controlled ; Broken-hearted independence — Overcoming obstacles and coming into our own. The academic squeeze ; Depression and therapy ; Race, identity, and prejudice ; Questions of faith ; Feminist pride.
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