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Publisher's Summary

Bloomsbury presents Girlhood by Melissa Febos, read by Melissa Febos.

A gripping set of stories about the forces that shape girls and the adults they become. A wise and brilliant guide to transforming the self and our society. 

In her powerful new book, critically acclaimed author Melissa Febos examines the narratives women are told about what it means to be female and what it takes to free oneself from them.

When her body began to change at 11 years old, Febos understood immediately that her meaning to other people had changed with it. By her teens, she defined herself based on these perceptions and by the romantic relationships she threw herself into headlong. Over time, Febos increasingly questioned the stories she’d been told about herself and the habits and defences she’d developed over years of trying to meet others’ expectations. The values she and so many other women had learned in girlhood did not prioritise their personal safety, happiness or freedom, and she set out to reframe those values and beliefs.

Blending investigative reporting, memoir and scholarship, Febos charts how she and others like her have reimagined relationships and made room for the anger, grief, power and pleasure women have long been taught to deny.

Written with Febos’s characteristic precision, lyricism and insight, Girlhood is a philosophical treatise, an anthem for women and a searing study of the transitions into and away from girlhood, towards a chosen self.

©2021 Melissa Febos (P)2021 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic Reviews

"Girlhood is an exquisite collection. In lapidary, lucid prose, Melissa Febos dissects the traumas, terrors and pleasures of the fraught passage from girl to woman. Febos’ insight is devastating, the examinations of her world - from the female body, queerness, consent, slut-shaming and intimacy - are rigorous and compassionate. This is a book for mothers, daughters and our deepest selves, a true light in the dark." (Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter)

"In this book, Febos proves herself to be one of the great documenters of the terrible and exquisite depths of girlhood. Here, that terrible and beautiful aeon is dissected, sung over, explored like ancient ruins. These essays are moss and iron - hard and beautiful - and struck through with Febos’ signature brilliance and power and grace. An essential, heartbreaking project." (Carmen Maria Machado, author of In the Dream House and Her Body and Other Parties)

"Melissa Febos is part poet, part theorist and all writer. In this lyrical, searching, profound and personal collection, Febos examines childhood, femaleness and love in its many forms with a sensuous ferocity that is all her own." (Ariel Levy, author of The Rules Do Not Apply and Female Chauvinist Pigs)

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  • Niurka Maldonado
  • 02-04-2021

Great read, audio needs editing

The first hour or so is the book was fine but as it progressed there were more and more sound errors and different sections repeated. The essays are excellent, though. I would skip the audiobook and purchase a printed copy.

7 people found this helpful

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  • St Clair
  • 27-06-2021

Spot on for many of us

Provocative. A salve for other academics with histories. (I enjoy the author’s narration also. It’s always good to hear the author read)

2 people found this helpful

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  • carissa
  • 20-04-2021

Great Book but Audio is Choppy

I really enjoyed listening to this book. It always is nice listening to the author read it because I can get more of a sense of what they meant when they wrote it. I did have to stop quite often because much of it does hit deep wounds for those whom identify as female. We all have experienced much of what she speaks about in this book, so personally, I needed time away to process and self-reflect on what the words mean in my life and process what wounds I still have left unhealed that the book opens up. Melissa gives voice to feelings many women are unable to give voice to, like "empty consent,"

The audio was very choppy in the first few chapters. I almost stopped the book altogether and returned it because it was so bad with the repeats and weird cut-offs. After about Chapter 7 or 8 it stopped being choppy.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-04-2021

Not produced

Whoever produced this audio book clearly did not listen back / edit before putting this up. You can hear when the narrator fumbles over her words and then restarts the sentence throughout the audio book. Very frustrating to listen to, couldn’t get through it.

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  • C. J. Smith
  • 05-09-2021

Thoughtful essays on growing up

Febos' narratives about becoming self aware are transformative and loving. The writing is exquisite. I'll definitely listen/read again!

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