Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thought Catalogue via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
When Grace Herman-Holland was eight years old she and her mother read Little Women together. When Jo and her sisters received a "guide to life" from their mother for Christmas, Grace said she wanted one too. Her mother gave her a little white book, hand bound with embroidery thread, full of all the advice about love and life she thought a girl should have.
Secular books about ethics for young people are hard to find, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that A Girl's Guide to Life lacks any religious component. That makes it accessible to most girls, religious or otherwise, and as an adult I found a lot of insight in it too. When Herman talks about doing the right thing, her emphasis is on the importance of empathy and compassion. She talks about friendship, forgiveness and healthy expressions of anger, using examples from her own life. I particularly liked the part about overcoming the fear of trying something new, which had personal significance for me.
There's only one part I was dubious about:
"When the author of this Guide was a child, she had a friend who would often mock her when she told her something that she meant for her to take seriously. Or- sometimes - her friend would simply change the subject; she made it clear that she just wasn't interested in talking about, or hearing about, what was on this author's mind. But the author's friend was her favourite person in all the world! And so she just kept trying. She learned that even when her feelings were hurt, she didn't have to give up, and it was worth the effort. She and her friend ended up being good driends - best friends - for many years."
I'm glad it worked out for the author, but that really doesn't sound like the recipe for a healthy relationship to me. It seems more likely to lead to a very one sided and frustrating "friendship". But I wouldn't presume to give out advice on this stuff without knowing the specifics.
This book does what it says on the tin. It's a guide for girls for dealing with the various challenges they might encounter in their daily lives. It is one woman's opinions, so perhaps should be taken with a grain of salt, but a confused, lonely young girl could certainly do a lot worse than take the advice in this book. It's a sweet, helpful guide that would make a great gift for a daughter, niece or granddaughter.