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Book of the week: The pains that come with exuberant brains

Why Are They So Weird? What's really going on in a teenager's brain By Barbara Strauch Bloomsbury pound;10.99

In the days when I thought I knew everything about being a parent (namely, before I had teenage children), a sage headteacher warned me to enjoy my children's successes before "they enter that vale of tears for parents known as adolescence". If I'd known then what I know now... but unfortunately it is one of the rules of life that you cannot benefit from another's experience.

Otherwise, the human race would just keep on getting wiser, and the evidence for this seems doubtful.

Parents and teachers who are tearing their hair out over teenagers - at the point when, for instance, the girl whose commitment to music practice, homework and netball has always been 100 per cent suddenly tells her mum to eff off, slams the door, flicks burning ash on the new carpet and runs off with her drug dealer boyfriend - may be tempted to buy Barbara Strauch's book in the hope that it will explain all.

Strauch, as health and medical science editor of The New York Times , has been able to combine interviewing authorities on the brain with shopping trips with her daughters. She has found out that the roots of teenagers' strange behaviour lie not only in hormones, but also in the uneven development of the grey and white matter in the skull.

Read this review in full in this week's TES Friday magazine

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