Reading non-fiction books is something that I occasionally enjoy doing while in class, but rarely attempt to do for a free reading endeavor. If the content fascinates me, I can sit down and read a good textbook, autobiography, or a recounting of a famous event, for a little while at least. However, when I started reading Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, I was immediately hooked. The author, Mary Pipher Ph.D., narrates the many stories of troubled youth quite beautifully. She also provides many sources and uses concrete facts, found through experimentation by her colleagues, and herself.
She starts by outlining her thesis of why she believes that at a certain point in a young girl’s life, she loses her sense of self and conforms to what society wants her to be. She proves her theory correct by telling the stories of her own patients, as she is a trained psychiatrist for adolescents. Alongside that are endless quotes and data from other sources. By the end of the book she has made her findings very clear.
The chapters are broken down into topics, such as conforming, sex and violence, development and so on. With sub-chapters including the names of girls that were evaluated that confirm what is trying to be conveyed in each chapter. For example the story of Charlotte portrays the young females’ dependency on a male role model. This structure for a novel was a good move, it is easy to follow and gives a lot of well-earned text breaks.
The only criticism I would give was that some of the information seemed repetitive, and at times, boring. Once the point was made, it seemed to drag on until the next topic was reached. I would have liked to have seen a more condensed final product.
This book was somewhat a challenge to read, with a lot of learned psychology terms and medical jargon, but not overwhelmingly so. I was pleased with my reading experience and I would highly recommend the book.