On Her Own: Growing up in the Shadow of the American Dream

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``A female version of the American Dream is alive and well,'' writes Sidel, a sociology professor at Hunter College in New York, after interviewing over 150 females, ages 12 to early 40s, for this provocative and informative book. Despite our society's changing conditions--high rates of divorce, the increased need for two wage-earners in one family, an explosive rise in the number of female-headed households, etc.--many of those interviewed cling fast to an ideology of upward mobility and ``having it all.'' Sidel ( Women and Children Last ) calls this group New American Dreamers. She also interviewed ``neo-traditionalists,'' who envision their future role as within the home, and ``outsiders,'' a catch-all category in which she lumps the poor, the homeless, Native Americans, troubled adolescents and the otherwise socially alienated. Younger women reported that sex was bewildering, a minefield, while many women of all age levels gave an impression of willingness to ``go it alone.'' (Jan.)
Library Journal
Sidel (sociology, Hunter Coll., CUNY) continues the analysis of women in contemporary society that she began in Women and Children Last (LJ 3/1/86). Her interviews with 150 women of varied ethnic and economic backgrounds regarding their views about family, work, and women's roles reveal their beliefs and aspirations as well as the social, economic, and cultural realities that often provide a harsh contrast to these dreams. Three groups emerge: the New American Dreamers, who believe that success awaits them; the Neotraditionalists, whose primary concern is the family; and the Outsiders, who cannot think of the future. Despite their different outlooks, women in all groups seemed to define success and happiness in material terms. They also felt that they were essentially on their own. Among Sidel's conclusions: American society offers only an illusion of choice to women today. Sidel makes suggestions for changes. An important book, highly recommended for most collections.-- Barbara M. Bibel, Oakland P.L., Cal.
School Library Journal
YA-- In order to identify the key issues involved in growing up female in the U. S. during the waning years of the 20th century, Sidel interviewed various groups of women, primarily between the ages of 12 to 25. Part I identifies their hopes and dreams for the future, ranging from the anxious female students who name career development as their most important goal and who have an innate belief in the American dream of wealth and success, to poor nonwhite females who have no dreams for themselves, but hope for a better life for their children. Part II examines the realities of women's lives. Separate chapters on teenage sex and pregnancy, the actual experiences of women in the work world, and the crisis of childcare are all packed with relevant statistics and examples, making this section especially valuable for students researching these issues. The third part is an impassioned plea for a more caring society, one that respects women, children, and families. Revealing the contradictions and inequalities existent in the society today's young women are preparing to enter, On Her Own has the potential to inspire powerful change in the lives of its readers.-- Keddy Ann Outlaw, Harris County Public Library, Houston
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140146707
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/20/1990
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.22 (w) x 7.68 (h) x 0.78 (d)

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