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What girls are made of af Elana K. Arnold

What girls are made of (udgave 2016)

af Elana K. Arnold

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1147186,326 (3.75)6
Sixteen-year-old Nina Faye navigates the difficult world of teenage relationships and dysfunctional family dynamics.
Titel:What girls are made of
Forfattere:Elana K. Arnold
Info:Minneapolis : Carolrhoda Lab, 2016.
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Nøgleord:2017-04, ya, lead-female, contemporary, printz-worthy

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What Girls Are Made of af Elana K. Arnold


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Viser 1-5 af 7 (næste | vis alle)
I really hated this book, BUT I kept pondering it and coming back. I really rejected the main character's experiences as being 'universal' for women in the first part, but, much like Damsel, they had a grain of truth to them that kept me from stopping reading. I have the feeling this is one of those reads that will come to mind over and over again throughout the years. The ending was not a huge winner-take-all, but more of a stubbornly satisfied I made it through. ( )
  Tip44 | Jun 30, 2020 |
This review is also featured on Behind the Pages: What Girls Are Made Of

Nina Faye grew up in a household of absent parents. The rare moments her mother was around, she taught Nina that unconditional love doesn’t exist. Nina was instructed to maintain her beauty because there would be no love without it and that the key to keeping love was sex. Of course, her mother also told her that one day she might stop loving Nina.

This is one of those books that should be included in high school. It would also be the book many parents would protest because it includes sex. This doesn’t romanticize teenage relationships; it tells the truth. How do children learn about love and sex? What happens when the influences around them are all they have to base a relationship off of? This is what Nina faces. Growing up with parents who barely paid attention to her, the only way Nina knows how to function in a relationship is by what her mother has told her. She takes her mother’s advice to heart, not realizing her mother was an unhappy woman in her relationship. Not realizing that when her mother spoke about relationships, it was to vent about how hers was broken. Words have power. Children are always listening and learning from what happens around them.

When Nina falls for a boy, she changes her entire life to fit around his. She loses herself in the relationship and only surfaces long enough to go to work. She never once thinks about her own wants or needs. She will make choices people aren’t happy with, but she also makes choices that many of us have made when we were young. Regardless if we want to admit it or not. And when Nina loses him, she is left adrift, lost and confused as to what she should do.

This is Nina’s journey through love and loss. At just 16 she will learn how to make tough decisions and live with the consequences of her actions. She will lose everything and have to relearn what it means to be herself and what love really is.

And follow me on Twitter for more bookish content ;) @Letora6 ( )
  Letora | Feb 20, 2020 |
Authentic voice of teenage Nina, completely in love with Seth, but with her own admission (never spoken of, but nevertheless true) that he cares for her only with "conditions", her pregnancy and abortion, and their eventual break & the aftermath. As a sort of commentary on female-hood and Nina's dreams/nightmares, the book is broken up with with intercalary chapters inserted - written with touches of magical realism and horror mixed- a teen girl's emerging realization that what girls are supposed to be is not what she always "feels" or "thinks" about herself, and how difficult it is to define oneself apart from boys, etc Very straightforward, explicit sex scenes and narrator's struggles with the effects of the sexual relationship, and detailed scenes of her visits to Planned Parenthood, and the abortion, etc. While the author's style effectively weaves a compelling story of young love, unhappy family, struggling teen girl, with passages of lyrical story, it left me feeling so sad and almost disturbed. Cavalcade of Authors author - NOT a book for younger teens for sure. ( )
  BDartnall | Dec 2, 2019 |
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure, why not?” Ruth says.
“Do you believe in unconditional love?”
“Absolutely,” Ruth says. “It’s one of the most dangerous forces in the universe.”
“What do you mean?”
“Unconditional love is how dogs feel about their masters. Dogs love their masters no matter how badly they’re beaten, how rarely they’re fed, and how terribly they’re cared for. They don’t know any better than to love without conditions.”
“That’s not what I mean,” I say. “I mean, between people.”
“There is no unconditional love between people,” Ruth says. “That kind of love flows one way, like a dog to its master. [ . . . ] When someone loves unconditionally, they’re saying, ‘I am your dog. You are my god.’ That’s who unconditional love is for—dogs and their masters, fools and their gods.”

(pp. 168-169)

Elana K. Arnold’s What Girls Are Made Of is a thought-provoking and richly allusive novel. It is a study of the obsessive, subservient, first-love of so many young women, in which their own agency, wants, and needs are secondary to those of the object of their love. Often, girls have little awareness of this agency or even knowledge about how their bodies work or respond. When 16-year-old Nina becomes involved with Seth, whom she met in fifth grade and has romantically idealized for years, she goes to a Planned Parenthood clinic for “protection”. The nurse practitioner who examines her there offers to show her, help her understand her anatomy, and Nina, taken aback at the very idea, quickly declines.

Things, of course, don’t go well with Seth. Physically attractive he may be, but lovable or sensitive he is not. I think it’s fair to say that he is a selfish lout, but he certainly knows what he wants. Mind you, Nina isn’t particularly sensitive either. Obsessive adolescent love can do this to a person: remove any interest in anyone but the “beloved”. In stereotypical fashion, Nina ditches her best friend Louise in order to spend time with Seth, even while knowing how “not feminist” this is. Nina is also doing community service—in a dog shelter, a disturbing place where the vast majority of the poor, rejected animals end up being euthanized—to atone for a malicious act the previous year that she intended to humiliate Seth’s former girlfriend, an exotic Portuguese beauty called Apollonia Corado.

Arnold uses Nina’s mother—who (as a young woman) travelled to Italy to study art—to educate Nina about the history of female representation in art and the experiences of several female saints. When Nina’s father--a distant figure, more a rumour than a presence in the novel--“bailed” on the twentieth-wedding-anniversary trip to Rome so carefully planned by his wife, fourteen-year-old Nina had gone instead. There, her mother acted as a sort of docent in the many art galleries and churches the two visited, speaking frankly to her then fourteen-year-old daughter as one adult to another. Of particular significance was the trip the two took to see Bernini’s famous sculpture, The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, in the Roman church of Santa Maria della Vittoria. There, Nina’s mother pointed out that Teresa’s sculpted expression is as much one of sexual ecstasy as religious. While fixation on Jesus may have felt protective against predatory males, the Catholic virgin martyr saints’ histories—which Nina claims to have heard as childhood bedtime stories from her mother—show that the virgins’ refusal to engage with men both titillated and infuriated these powerful males, provoking them to torture the beautiful and saintly young girls.

In the course of the novel, Arnold shows that Nina’s recollections of her mother’s many and frequent miscarriages, her experiences with her mother both at home and in Europe, and her interactions with people and dogs at the animal shelter help her understand herself when the relationship with Seth fails. Nina’s unwitting absorption of the cultural code of female passivity and objectification put me in mind of Simone de Beauvoir’s sharp observations in The Second Sex, which I read when I was a young adult. I likely missed a lot in that book, but I certainly remember de Beauvoir’s comments about females regarding themselves not as free subjects but as the objects of society’s—i.e., males’—gaze.

The copy of What Girls Are Made Of that I read includes a jacket-flap thumbnail biography of the author. Somewhat unusually, it tells us that the author writes books “for and about children and teens.” What Girls Are Made Of is certainly about a teen-aged girl, but it may be of more interest to adult women or older “young adult” readers. The content is intellectually sophisticated and makes demands that not all young adults are ready for. It is also very sexually frank—with a few more details than I feel are actually needed. Having said that, I’ve been surprised me by how matter-of-fact the teenagers I’ve known can be about sex.

In the end, my chief reservation about the book concerns characterization. I didn’t find Nina entirely convincing as a character. Her voice is too clear and articulate for her stated age. The excerpts of Nina’s writing (for an English project on magical realism) that are woven into the text are likewise too sophisticated and refined to pass as those of a sixteen or seventeen year old. I’ve read surprisingly polished work from fourteen-year-old kids, but Nina’s pieces are just too finely and artistically rendered to be credible. The only two significant adults in Arnold’s novel—Nina’s mother and the shelter manager, Ruth—are puppets in the hands of the author. They deliver commentary that instructs Nina on her journey--commentary which also amplifies the themes Arnold is preoccupied with. Another problem is that Nina’s parents are often conveniently absent to serve the needs of the plot. They are nowhere on site when Nina messes around with Seth nor are they aware of a significant crisis their daughter has to face. Towards the end of the book, the author conveniently implies that Nina’s mother’s distance is due to alcoholism.

In spite of the reservations I had about the novel, I found What Girls Are Made Of to be an interesting and thought-provoking read with some lovely writing in it. Thank you to my Goodreads friend, Melissa, for bringing the book to my attention.

For anyone interested in some of the art discussed in Arnold’s novel, I’ve provided a couple of links:


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecstasy_of_Saint_Teresa#/media/File:Ecstasy_of_Sai... ( )
  fountainoverflows | Jan 31, 2018 |
I picked up _What Girls are Made Of_ because it was highly recommended by YA lit reviewers I trust. While quite well-written - compelling, almost - I don't get it. Maybe, because, as a YA lit professor once said, I am not the intended audience. I found it compelling but depressing. Nina is a high school student so at loose ends I feel sorry for her. Her parents are physically and emotionally distant, her mother revises their personal history on a dime ('You told me love is conditional.' 'I never said any such thing.' - when we know she did.). Her best friend seems shallow, and she is consumed by the attentions of a boy who uses her and casts her aside. Not exactly a rousing ad for 'It Gets Better.' ( )
  CDWilson27 | Dec 19, 2017 |
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Sixteen-year-old Nina Faye navigates the difficult world of teenage relationships and dysfunctional family dynamics.

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