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Book Review: The Drama Years by Haley Kilpatrick

A closer look at the hardships of middle school. Any parent of a middle school girl would do well to pick up this book as a guide through their daughter’s tougher years.


I spent the past weekend moving from terror to gratitude. This is because after I watched the movie, Thirteen, I read The Drama Years by Haley Kilpatrick. It was a seemingly masochistic move for a mother of adolescents and one that left me frantic until I remembered that my daughters are no longer in middle school, and we are done with those painful days.

Well, hopefully.

Kilpatrick is the founder of the nonprofit, Girl TalkGirl Talk pairs middle school girls with high school mentors who have experienced middle school angst and can advise and support the younger girls. It’s advice from the source.

In The Drama Years, Kirkpatrick details this middle school minefield, based primarily on her own experiences and the experiences of other girls. And she includes suggestions for how parents can lessen the drama.

Mainly, if girls are busy with outside interests, there is little time left to be self-absorbed and dramatic.

Kilpatrick’s book deals with the issues that middle school girls face – issues that often feel life changing because of their power to alter social standing. Her description of the social changes that girls experience during these formative years terrified me. Can peer pressure and the desperate need to “fit in” really supplant all the parenting we do up to this point? Had I been blind and delusional and missed my daughters’ cries for help during her toughest years at school?

At first, this book made me feel like I had not been aware of what my daughters really experienced during those crucial years. But then, I remembered: not all girls go through the drama as profoundly as the author would have me believe. Every experience is different, and my daughters may not have experienced the pain of middle school drama so harshly.

The advice in this book would have been helpful when my daughters were younger. This book made me rethink how I responded to certain events and situations; I viewed many things as minor while my daughters likely considered them very important. Reading this book would have been a useful guide. But, better late than never – just in case I missed something, I am going to sit down with daughters and have a long chat!

Eca Taylor is the former circulation specialist for Your Teen Magazine.

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