The Geography of Girlhood

( 8 )

Overview

Written in verse, this novel follows a girl from ages 14 to 18, exploring first crushes, first dances, first kisses, and the many dangers of growing up.

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The Geography of Girlhood

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Overview

Written in verse, this novel follows a girl from ages 14 to 18, exploring first crushes, first dances, first kisses, and the many dangers of growing up.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Kelly Czarnecki
Smith pulls from the center of that painful aloneness of the whirlpool that comprises the teenage years to create the character of Penny and to touch the universal places to which many have been. Told in verse, Penny's story transcends seven sections-marine life, low tide, the lay of the land, bodies of water, the river of sixteen, the wrong road out of town, and the flanks of home-to create a wonderful journey of "wherever you go, that's where you are." "I guess if you look at it / I'm right where I started," Penny says in the last scene. Smith captures the three-dimensional aspects of the characters through metaphors of the changing seasons, references to maps, and exposing people in different light-"but I guess everyone's / got another version of themselves / living inside them, / you just don't get to see it / all the time." Penny's stepbrother, Spencer, who "is more disgusting than the parts of a fish / you throw in the trash," ends up being part of her journey to herself in closing. She plans to spend his life telling him "the first of many stupid warnings" that a younger stepbrother should know. Penny traverses through difficult truths: a mother who left ten years ago, an older sister who does not keep her curfew, a father who is remarrying, and her friend Denise who is suffering from mental illness. Through raw courage and patience, Penny learns how to float above it all in this essential purchase.
Barbara Ray
All Penny can think about is getting away from her dull, small-town life, just like her mother did when Penny was six. Her story begins at the end of ninth grade. She is consumed by the great life she sees her sister living. Tara is pretty, popular with boys, and able to defy their father. Problems are compounded when Dad marries and adds a stepbrother, Spencer, to the equation. Penny shares her first kiss, infatuation with her history teacher, experimentation with drinking and sex, and finally running away with her sister's ex-boyfriend, Bobby. Kirsten Smith shares, in the form of verse, how fragile life can be while growing up. Penny gets her wish and runs away with Bobby, only to realize that dreams are so different from the reality of those dreams. Penny learns how to accept things for what they are, not wishing to be someone else or go some place else. It is okay to just be.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-This novel in verse follows Penny as she navigates the unpredictable and often harrowing waters of young adulthood, and her episodic narration reverberates with authenticity. She is a sensitive girl deeply affected by her mother's abandonment when she was six. Though many of the hurdles that Penny encounters are representative of typical small-town teens, she has an insight into other people and even into her own feelings that make this a penetrating portrait of growing up female. The selections touch on the mercurial nature of friendships, envy of an attractive older sister with a boyfriend, self-consciousness about her own body and beauty, longing to be in the "in" crowd while at the same time deriding the superficial behavior of its members, and adjusting to a stepmother and younger stepbrother. The everyday pain of adolescence rings true throughout this readable and honest story. There is some matter-of-fact mention of sexual situations and underage drinking. However, it is the clarity, the keen understanding, and the apt metaphors that make Penny's voice so memorable.-Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The mystery of a missing mother never overwhelms this coming-of-age story told in poetry, as Penny Morrow decides to test the waters and find out who she is-without rocking the boat too much. When readers first meet Penny, she's anticipating high school, her first kiss and contemplating the wild and loose behavior of her older sister. Soon Penny accumulates experiences both funny and poignant, including a first kiss, a failed drama performance and events surrounding her father's remarriage. But it's the unexpected loss of the first-kiss-giver that turns Penny's world upside down and propels her on a final attempt at living dangerously, silencing the ghost of her missing mother and putting all the pieces together. Penny's transformation from shy little sister to mature teenager is gratifying, and readers will be enormously satisfied that Penny has grown from ditz to balanced young woman, ready to handle the challenges of adulthood. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316017350
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 2/7/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 192
  • Age range: 12 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Kirsten Smith first began writing poetry while attending Occidental College but has made a career out of writing screenplays. Her credits include 10 Things I Hate About You, Legally Blonde, and Ella Enchanted.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013

    61 pages

    So so

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Wonderful Read

    Kept my attention from the start

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 12, 2010

    Definitely Memorable

    The Geography of Girlhood is definitely memorable in the way that Smith expresses every single thought, feeling, and emotion that the characters are feeling. Smith makes an author relate to the main character at so many levels, but also introduces the reader to the mind of teen girls that parents or adults may have never experienced before. I thought it was amazing that other reviews suggested that every girl, lady, or woman would relate to it, but I know there are several issues that the girl goes through that I could not even begin to relate to. Although the form of the literature is interesting and makes it an easy read, there were some parts where it became a little complicated to follow along because of the problems each girl is facing. But, nonetheless it is an intense read if you enjoy reading the minds of some dark and mysterious girls growing up.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    All right

    This book is all right if you are into verse novels, but if you are more traditional, it probably won't be your cup of tea. Its not really a novel. Given the poems and short length of the book, it only tells the major events of Penny's life, with little or no transition. The poems are okay, but definitely not the best. Probably won't hold readers attention, as it does not build supsense or anything, and is usually blocky. I wouldn't reccomend buying it, but if you think you might want to read it, check it out at the library.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Pretty Boring

    This book was........... so/so. There was really no plot, just a bunch of events in a girl's life jumbled together to make a novel. I'm not even sure that the main characters name was ever mentioned.......

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jennifer Wardrip, aka "The Genius" for TeensReadToo.com

    Novels told in verse usually fall into two categories: those that simply tell a story with poetry, and those that manage to capture a life so eloquently in verse that you fall headfirst into the story. THE GEOGRAPHY OF GIRLHOOD, thankfully, falls into the latter category. Kirsten Smith has managed to pen, through verse, the story of fourteen-year old Penny Marrow, a girl you will laugh with, cry with, and get to know very, very well within the pages of this book. <BR/><BR/>Penny's older sister, Tara, was blessed with the beauty, and the ability to cut her sister down with only a glance. Her father's hope is simply that his daughters will have listened to him enough to stay away from bad boys and make a place for themselves in the world. And as for her mother? She left when Penny was six, and the only thing Penny has to remind her of her mom is a snow globe. Now she has a stepmother, and a younger stepbrother, and a family life that can be summed up with "don't be like your sister." <BR/><BR/>For Penny, life is confusing, with the fights her friends have regularly and the first kiss that makes her faint and the huge infatuation she has on her sister's boyfriend. But behind it all is the wish that her mother would just come home, would be returned by the aliens who abducted her or whatever, and make everything better. For Penny, watching her father change and her sister change and herself change is too much to take without a mother. But years pass, and when she finally gets one thing that she wants--which is Bobby--it's not at all like she expected, and she loses friends and gains new acquaintances and still, in the back of her mind, she wants her mother. <BR/><BR/>THE GEOGRAPHY OF GIRLHOOD is sweet and bitter, a poignant story filled with joy and heartbreak about growing up and learning to let go and first love. Thankfully, this is a book told in verse that you won't soon forget, a definite recommended read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2006

    Courtesy of Teens Read Too

    Novels told in verse usually fall into two categories: those that simply tell a story with poetry, and those that manage to capture a life so eloquently in verse that you fall headfirst into the story. THE GEOGRAPHY OF GIRLHOOD, thankfully, falls into the latter category. Kirsten Smith has managed to pen, through verse, the story of fourteen-year-old Penny Marrow, a girl you will laugh with, cry with, and get to know very, very well within the pages of this book. Penny's older sister, Tara, was blessed with the beauty, and the ability to cut her sister down with only a glance. Her father's hope is simply that his daughters will have listened to him enough to stay away from bad boys and make a place for themselves in the world. And as for her mother? She left when Penny was six, and the only thing Penny has to remind her of her mom is a snow globe. Now she has a stepmother, and a younger stepbrother, and a family life that can be summed up with 'don't be like your sister.' For Penny, life is confusing, with the fights her friends have regularly and the first kiss that makes her faint and the huge infatuation she has on her sister's boyfriend. But behind it all is the wish that her mother would just come home, would be returned by the aliens who abducted her or whatever, and make everything better. For Penny, watching her father change and her sister change and herself change is too much to take without a mother. But years pass, and when she finally gets one thing that she wants--which is Bobby--it's not at all like she expected, and she loses friends and gains new acquaintances and still, in the back of her mind, she wants her mother. THE GEOGRAPHY OF GIRLHOOD is sweet and bitter, a poignant story filled with joy and heartbreak about growing up and learning to let go and first love. Thankfully, this is a book told in verse that you won't soon forget, a definite recommended read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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