The Girls’ Guide to Conquering Life: How to Ace an Interview, Change a Tire, Talk to a Guy, and 97 Other Skills You Need to Thrive by Erica & Jonathan Catherman

Publication Date: May 15th, 2018

Rating: 2 ½ Stars

This husband and wife team set out to create a book that encased everything a girl, becoming a woman, needs to know. They did this through ten essential categories, detailing “How To” steps, with varying anecdotes scattered throughout the chapters. These “How To” stages are simplistic enough for a younger audience, while successfully keeping the topics light and understandable. The pictures included at the beginning of each kept the book from becoming too dense as the introductions to each category provided insights into why the authors determined each of the subject matters as important for young women.

My only hesitations were the prehistoric references. For instance, chapter one on “Guys & Dating” does not discuss the changing dating environment with modern technology and dating apps. It’s also important for the authors to cater to the target audience. Studies find most young women/girls, particularly those generations targeted by this book, have attention spans of a matter of seconds. Given this, and after reading The Girls’ Guide to Conquering Life, I didn’t encounter a solid reason why any female should choose to READ this book rather than YouTube each “How To.” As a young adult that recently renovated an entire house, without hired help, the wonders of YouTube and quick videos serve to teach more efficiently than reading, no matter how simplistic the steps are.

As mentioned this book focuses in on ten different categories. These categories, and my thoughts on each, are as follows:

  1. Guys & Dating – As mentioned earlier this chapter lacked discussion on the ever-changing dating environment. As technology and dating apps begin to take center stage at all ages, how can young women navigate? The subjects broached within this category were extremely rudimentary, with topics such as “How to Talk with a Guy You Like” and “How to Plan a Date.”
  2. Social Skills & Manners – This section brought up interesting topics such as the differences in American etiquette and European. As a cultural melting pot we must remain respectful to others. I enjoyed the “Did You Know” facts interspersed throughout, specifically page 46 which states “how we communicate is so much more than the words we choose. Communication is a combination of these elements: 7% Words, 38% tone of voice and 55% body language.” Despite my age, this remained a great reminder.
  3. Work & Ethics – The focus was on work more so than ethics, as this segment broke down everything from the application process to resignation. Although, again, I felt the authors failed to capture the power of technology and relationships in getting jobs today.
  4. Wealth & Money Management – Tied with the famous Dave Ramsey money management tips, this section focused on things like “don’t buy it if you don’t have the cash,” and “avoid using credit cards at all costs.” For the target audience, I’m not sure this chapter’s “debt” topics were pertinent. Regardless, as a woman in the financial industry, these suggestions are not often realistic because if we can’t buy with credit many people wouldn’t own cars and certainly wouldn’t own houses. Rather than shaming women into not spending money, we must teach women how to ask for help financially. I would have liked to see more detailed budgeting tips within this chapter as rigid financial budgets prevent overspending before it happens.
  5. Health & Beauty – Do male targeted books have chapters on maintaining healthy hair, skin, teeth and nail routines? As a self-described tomboy, I always hate to see chapters that open “How To” books to glaring gender differences, but given the changes to the body during puberty, lessons on maintaining oily hair and odors are necessary for the target audience.
  6. Clothes & Fashion – The authors did an incredible job opening this chapter with strong female quotes, including Anne Klein stating, “clothes aren’t going to change the world, the women who wear them will,” (p. 137). This sets the tone for the entire topic from learning what specifically causes clothing to smell to why stains need to be removed as outlined within.
  7. Sports & Recreation – This covered a wide breath of sports, from how to kick a soccer ball to how to properly throw a dart and why. Young readers are given detailed instructions on the fundamentals, such as shooting a basketball from the finger tips so it rolls off the middle finger. As a collegiate athlete I was thoroughly impressed with the level of PROPER detail given on these athletic topics.
  8. Cars & Driving – I think many females will agree being stranded somewhere, alone, is one of our worst fears. It is therefore important all girls know how to change a tire and jump start a car. This chapter gives the reader the instruction necessary to successfully complete key tasks so one is never left on the side of the road dependent on a stranger.
  9. Food & Cooking – I would no longer categorize myself as a “young woman” and I still struggle in this department. The authors did a great job of explaining how and why foods are cooked as they are. For instance, why fish is cooked skin on and how to sharpen your knives so they remain most effective. I don’t care how old you are there is always more to be learned about cooking and food prep.
  10. Tools & Fix-It – I was apprehensive going into this chapter, I didn’t think I would gain much from this chapter given my background in large DIY projects, but I was wrong. While I did disagree with some of the “must-have” tools for your tool kit, I did gain insight into the real reason for the slanted bubble on a level and a few other interesting tips.

*Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Revell, in exchange for an honest review.

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