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My Teenage Werewolf

My Teenage Werewolf

3.3 3
by Lauren Kessler

A veteran journalist navigates the mother-daughter relationship at its most crucial moment

With the eye of a reporter, the curiosity of an anthropologist, and the open (and sometimes wounded) heart of a mother, award-winning author Lauren Kessler embeds herself in her about-to-be-teenage daughter's life. In seventh- and eighth-grade classrooms, at home,


A veteran journalist navigates the mother-daughter relationship at its most crucial moment

With the eye of a reporter, the curiosity of an anthropologist, and the open (and sometimes wounded) heart of a mother, award-winning author Lauren Kessler embeds herself in her about-to-be-teenage daughter's life. In seventh- and eighth-grade classrooms, at home, online, at the mall, and at summer camp, Kessler observes, investigates, chronicles- and participates in-the life of a twenty-first-century teen. As she begins to better understand and appreciate her mercurial daughter, their relationship-at first a mirror of the author's difficult relationship with her own mother-lurches in new directions. With the help of a resident teen expert (her daughter), as well as teachers, doctors, therapists, and other mothers, Kessler illuminates the age-old struggle from both sides, gracefully interweaving personal experience with journalistic inquiry. Funny, poignant, and insightful, My Teenage Werewolf explores the fascinating and scary world of today's teen as it comes to grips with the single most important relationship in a woman's life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kessler, the author of five narrative nonfiction books, explores the mother/daughter relationship at a particularly vulnerable point—the cusp of her daughter’s entry into adolescence. At 12, Lizzie is often at odds with her author mom, who describes her “chilly” relationship with her own mother. Not wanting to repeat a distant and dissatisfying relationship with her offspring, Kessler decides to dive into her daughter’s world. She embeds herself in middle school, following Lizzie from class to class, probing her peer relationships, online pastimes and cyberfriends, athletic and summer camp life. She also immerses herself in current literature on the mother/daughter relationship and interviews a number of experts, including a female shaman/teen educator and a mental health counselor who plays on a roller derby team. While Lizzie goes along with her mother’s role as a “cultural anthropologist,” she is often prone to hostility and “random acts of meanness.” But as Kessler digs deeper and begins to recognize her daughter’s need for power over her own life and choices, this mother/daughter relationship ripens with compassion and mutual understanding. The author (also the mother of two boys) downplays the conflicts between mothers and teen males, convinced that the steps to the mother/daughter tango are far more complicated. Mothers of girls in particular will be alternately amused, horrified, and entertained as they view the turmoil and triumphs of adolescence from Kessler’s insightful perspective. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"With grace and skill...Kessler writes with true fascination and appreciation for what her daughter is experiencing... With every description of epinephrine or serotonin, it is clear that she, too, is learning, keeping the passages accessible rather than didactic...Reading about Ms. Kessler's struggle and gradual catharsis will bring a sense of peace to the mothers of teen girls in realizing they are not alone. And for those of us who have been werewolves ourselves, reading about her journey will inspire new appreciation for those who put up with the snarling."
Emily Fuggetta, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Straight from the trenches, a mom's tale of weathering her daughter's transformation from sweetheart to snark mouth."

"Having the final word in an argument doesn't count for much when you're trying to help your daughter negotiate the bumps and blind curves in the road through adolescence...Lauren Kessler captures these debates and dilemmas with pitch- perfect humor and rue...[and] dives into a mountain of research and interviews with experts to understand how social structures, peer pressure, shifting societal norms and biological imperatives all affect teen behavior...My Teenage Werewolf is painfully funny, occasionally shocking, tender, maddening and wry. Ultimately, it's reassuring."
Barbara Lloyd McMichael, Seattle Times

"Poignant...Enlightening...[Kessler] embeds herself in a world and writes about it as objectively as possible, Margaret Mead-style."
Jamie Passaro, Eugene Register-Guard

"When best-selling nonfiction author Lauren Kessler turns upon her own household with the sharp eye and reporting skills of an embedded journalist, the life of an American teenager-of her American teenage daughter-becomes a window onto childhood, adulthood, and all the markers in-between. A child's precarious climb from immaturity to maturity, with the strong hand of a mother for balance, is illuminated here by a young woman who has given her mother access, and by the mother who has handled that access with respect, empathy, humor, and boundless love."
Melissa Fay Greene, author of Praying for Sheetrock and There Is No Me Without You

"The astute, intrepid Lauren Kessler dives into the deep end of teenage culture in this witty, entertaining, and ultimately wise tale of surviving her feisty daughter's middle school years. Her book belongs on the nightstand of every parent, and everyone who thinks she may one day become a parent (they're not adorable babies forever, folks!)."
Karen Karbo, author of The Gospel According to Coco Chanel and Motherhood Made a Man Out of Me

"Those of us who long identified as 'daughters' are suddenly on the other side of the divide: We are the mothers. Of teenage girls. Who are perpetually annoyed by us. What's more, their present dredges up our own past. Yet therein lies the opportunity for a better future-better relationships not only to our girls but to our own mothers and even to ourselves. I can think of no better guide through that process than Lauren Kessler, who reports from the front lines with wit, grit, insight-and truly impressive sangfroid."
Peggy Orenstein, author of Waiting for Daisy and Flux

"...a hilarious and insightful read that's sure to resonate with any mom."
Ladies' Home Journal

"Readers who live with Lizzies of their own will enjoy this glimpse into the adolescent brain, which is 'not yet open for the business of wise and measured living.'"

"To find out what's up with teenage girls, Lauren Kessler goes where no mother has gone before - like the girls' locker room in middle school. If you're battered by a daughter who's 10 times smarter and 100 times cooler than you are, this book could save your sanity. It turns out that that teen monster is still your little girl - just don't let her know that you know it!"
Barbara Ehrenreich, bestselling author of Bright-Sided, This Land Is Your Land, and Nickel and Dimed

"Few relationships are deeper, more fraught, and, when they go right, more blissful than the relationship between a mother and a daughter. But how do we traverse this sometimes rocky terrain? Intelligent, open-hearted and witty, Lauren Kessler's MY TEENAGE WEREWOLF supplies a map for mothers of teenage daughters everywhere."
Peg Tyre, bestselling author of The Trouble With Boys

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.58(w) x 11.28(h) x 0.94(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Lauren Kessler is the author of five works of narrative nonfiction, including the Washington Post bestseller Clever Girl and the Los Angeles Times bestseller The Happy Bottom Riding Club. Her journalism has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Times Magazine, O magazine, and The Nation. She directs the graduate program in literary nonfiction at the University of Oregon and lives in Eugene, Oregon.

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My Teenage Werewolf 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
kbshee More than 1 year ago
I don't have a daughter, but I learned so much from this book: why the students I teach act the way they do, why my friends who are moms of teenage girls are so happy to come to work on some days, why it was ok that I didn't talk to my mother for most of my thirteenth year (slight exaggeration). Kessler's book about motherhood, daughterhood, and what binds the two together (and tears the two apart) is a terrific read and an engaging take on a subject that half the population has experienced at one time or another.