Girl Land, by Caitlin Flanagan
I've given up trying to knit on the subway during rush hour, so I'm reading more instead. Caitlin Flanagan's essays in The Atlantic have always entertained me. I think she's provocative and funny, and while we sometimes disagree, we share a sociocultural background that makes her writing intensely relateable. So when I saw this in the library's new arrivals section, I snapped it up. It's a quick read, and I finished it in a single day of commuting. The book had its moments of funniness, and I definitely copied down some quotes to reference later. But the whole piece seemed less a study of American female adolescence than a paean to Flanagan's own fading youth. The book shone most when Flanagan talked about her own adolescence and maturity, while the cultural commentary mostly fell flat. Her arguments might have had heft, but they are too poorly researched and too scattered amid personal reflections to hang together. The book doesn't have a point a reader can carry away from it, and the memoirish moments are too few and too short. I wanted more of Caitlin Flanagan, the middle aged mother recalling her youth and less of Caitlin Flanagan, the cultural commentator trying to make a Larger Point.