Summary and book reviews of Girls Will Be Girls by Dr. JoAnn Deak

Girls Will Be Girls

Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters

By Teresa Barker, Dr. JoAnn Deak

Girls Will Be Girls
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  • Hardcover: Aug 2002,
    320 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2003,
    304 pages.

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Book Summary

In Reviving Ophelia, Mary Pipher told us about the problems girls face. Now, in Girls Will Be Girls, JoAnn Deak gives us the solutions. In a work that's as relevant and important as Raising Cain, Deak offers a comprehensive road map to the many emotional and physical challenges girls ages six to sixteen face in today's challenging world.

Renowned for her knowledge of what makes girls tick, Dr. Deak brings together stories and lessons from more than 20 years as a school psychologist and principal, and introduces original concepts as a framework to help parents better understand their daughters, such as:

  • The Strudel Theory -- building a life with layers of experience
  • Crucible Moments - the accumulating impact of the "little things"
  • Negotiating the Gray -- using discussion and action to guide girls through the often chaotic and ambiguous challenges of physical, social, and emotional growth

Deak looks past the "scare" stories to those that enlighten parents and enable them to empower girls. She draws from the latest brain research on girls to illustrate the exciting new ways in which we can help our daughters learn and thrive. Most telling of all, she gives us the voices of girls themselves as they struggle with body image, self-esteem, intellectual growth, peer pressure, and media messages. The result is a masterly book that addresses the key issues for girls growing up; one that fulfills a desperate need for clear guiding principles to help mothers, fathers, and their daughters navigate this chaotic contemporary culture.


Most of us get one childhood to remember. I got two.

There was the picture-perfect one of my family: a mother and father very much in love, very loving parents to my older brother and me. We lived in a little town in the Midwest. My mother never worked outside of the home, but instead spent her days driving a station wagon, taking us, and all the neighborhood kids that could fit, to the public pool, the playground, and town. We even had a collie! That was my first childhood. It lasted fourteen years.

On a beautiful spring evening the Sunday before Easter of my freshman year of high school, my father suffered a fatal heart attack. Thus began my second life as a girl growing up, a life that began with an adolescence transformed literally overnight from a girlhood dream to a nightmare of loss and a new, bittersweet appreciation of life's nuances. Everything about my life changed, and with those changes came a heightened awareness of the gendered experience of ...

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Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

...a practical and reassuring guide for parents of daughters...While there are no instant fixes in these often trying times, this book provides an intelligent and reasonable plan that many parents will want to consider.

Library Journal - Linda Beck

Deak aims to give answers to the problems raised in Mary Pipher's classic Reviving Ophelia. Quite a claim but she does it.

Booklist - Gillian Engberg

Supportive and less bleak than many recent titles about the lives of teen girls, this no-nonsense book offers a wealth of practical advice for parents and teachers.

Author Blurb Linda Ellerbee
I wish this book had been around back when I was a girl. And I sure wish it had been around when my daughter was a girl. There's real wisdom between these covers. Do yourself a favor. Buy one copy for yourself (or your mother), and another to save for when your daughter is mother to a daughter.

Author Blurb Marsha Johnson Evans, National Executive Director, Girl Scouts of the USA
As the largest informal education organization for girls in the world, we concur with Dr. Deaks insightful treatise on raising confident and competent girls. I encourage parents, guardians and anyone who works with girls to read this book.

Author Blurb Meg Milne Moulton and Whitney Ransome, Executive Directors, national Coalition of Girl's Schools
JoAnn Deak's Girls Will Be Girls is right on the mark. She celebrates girls, and has a keen understanding of their intellectual, physical, and emotional lives. Cultivating competence, confidence, and connections is the bottom line.

Author Blurb Michael G. Thompson, Ph.D., coauthor of Raising Cain
Girls Will Be Girls offers parents humor, understanding, parenting philosophy, and well-founded pearls of wisdom. It is a satisfying and delicious read.

Author Blurb Frances A. Rubacha, Board Chair, Outward Bound USA
Girls Will Be Girls is a must-read for every parent! It provides thoughtful advice that will enrich your relationship with your daughter and help you enjoy the complex challenge of raising a strong and resilient person -- one who can discover for herself the power of the words 'I can.'

Author Blurb Dan Kindlon, author of Too Much of A Good Thing Raising Children of Character in an Indulgent Age and Coauthor of Raising Cain
Full of compelling insights about raising great girls. Parents who buy this book will raise girls who have the strength of character to withstand anything that life throws at them. By focusing on 'crucible events,' Deak and Barker give parents an exceptionally useful tool for understanding girls' development.

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