Book Review: What Would I Tell Her @ 13

Book: What Would I Tell Her @ 13
Author: Sudesna Ghosh
Number of pages: 190
Price: Rs. 250 

What Would I Tell Her @ 13What Would I Tell Her @ 13 by Sudesna Ghosh is dedicated to the new Indian teenage girl, her parents and anybody else trying to survive this phase. Featuring essays by successful women from diverse walks of life, this book is a compilation of stories, emotions and memories along the following themes:

  • Independence
  • Confidence
  • Discovering your voice
  • Goals
  • Friendships and cliques
  • Tackling body and weight issues
  • Role models
  • Child sexual abuse

Ghosh writes a beautiful introduction to the book, supplementing it with ample research from myriad sources and concluding with a poem that she says, “goes best with thirteen.” An apt choice, I thought.

In the subsequent chapters, she introduces each of the above-mentioned themes ( relevant and well chosen), leading in to the essays, which are laden with personal anecdotes and memories. Ghosh has made a careful selection of the women featured; experts in their chosen fields, all names and personalities that we are familiar with. They share their stories, they inspire and they advise. But mostly they talk to you and not at you.

Rimi B. Chatterjee’s story on discovering one’s inner compassion was my favourite bit in the book. She talks of the importance of habit, fighting the demons in your head and making choices.

The tone in What Would I Tell Her @ 13 is by and large personal. And it doesn’t preach or get didactic at any point. There is much personal insight; almost akin to a conversation between friends. Wherever possible, Ghosh relies on psychology and research to back up her claims and inferences.

While I loved the tone and voice in general (there is a lot of warmth), I was a tad bit disappointed with the writing in some of the individual essays. Some of them flowed really well, while some others were put together in a haphazard manner. Careful editing could have also gleaned out the many typos and some randomly capitalized words that litter the book.

But What Would I Tell Her @ 13 is a fine debut. It is the kind of book you want to gift a teenage girl or a parent, with a knowing smile, that says, “Relax, it will be all okay!”



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