________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 5 . . . . November 1, 2002


You Be Me: Friendship in the Lives of Teen Girls.

Susan Musgrave, ed.
Toronto, Annick Press, 2002.
123 pp., pbk. & cl., $9.95 (pbk.), $18.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55037-738-8 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55037-739-6 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Teenage girls.
Friendship in adolescence.
Women authors, Canadian (English)-20th century-Childhood and youth.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Jocelyn A. Dimm.

*** /4


We are an odd bunch, something I really see only in retrospect. Or maybe I knew it then and liked it, as I liked the weirdness with Suzan. This is not a group for me in the same way other groups are groups. There's no cohesive we I take pride in. What all of us do know is that we have a home in the student council office. We are not cafeteria drek, we are not the seething masses. We are - not overtly, not consciously, except maybe for Diane - the freaks. Not losers. Freaks. It's different. (From “Good in a Group” by Anne Fleming.”)

You Be Me: Friendship in the Lives of Teen Girls is a collection of stories by seven women authors, fictitiously or not, reminiscing through their memories of being teenage girls. The stories introduce the reader to many different backgrounds, diverse cultures, and eclectic characters. This is a good solid collection of short stories about the rites of passage of teenage girls, and the friends they have, or don't have during these years.

     The collection is edited by Susan Musgrave, and she concludes her introduction by saying: “These compelling, no-holds-barred stories let me know that I'm not - and never was - so alone. Reading them, I felt I was in the company of long-lost friends, I hope you feel that way too."

     It is here that I question the strength of the book for "teenage girls" because, although the stories are strong and well-written, this collection seems more intended for an adult audience reliving those "years-gone-by." With lines like, "As I walk around the village I was born in, all I can think about is how small it looks, how mean and withered the faces of its inhabitants, even those of friends who are staying on, getting married," (Stonehouse, pg. 32), it might be difficult to bring to mind a teenage reader who is living the moment now, not thinking back on how things were.

     The language used in many of the stories seems more appropriate for an adult "looking back." Phrases like, "I hated wearing those brown gym bloomers" (Kwa, pg.63), and "I prefer to think Cerise and I didn't fall out over anything as banal as a boy" (Kalman, pg. 100), carry the tone of a colloquialism of another time and place. Only two of the authors in the collection are mentioned specifically as having produced writing for young adults. Would teenagers be more likely to pick up a book with a collection of stories about teenage girls if they recognized the names of young adult authors they know and have been reading?

     As a collection of stories for adult readers reliving the moments of their teenage years, I would recommend this book. As a young adult read, I would have to recommend it with reservations.

Recommended with reservations.

Jocelyn A. Dimm is a sessional instructor and a PhD student at the University of Victoria, BC, where she teaches drama education and young adult literature in the Faculty of Education.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364