Essential reading for the '90s girl

9th August 1996 at 01:00
MY BODY, MYSELF By Anita Naik, Macmillan, Pounds 4.99. FAMILIES: CAN'T LIVE WITH THEM,CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT THEM! By Anita Naik, Hodder Children's Books, Pounds 3.99. SAY WHAT YOU MEAN AND GET WHAT YOU WANT By Tricia Kreitman, Macmillan, Pounds 3.99.

IT HAPPENED TO ME: MIZZ TRUE LIFE STORIES By Lesley Johnston, Macmillan, Pounds 3.50. THROUGH THICK AND THIN: YOUNG WOMEN TALK RELATIONSHIPS Edited by Jane Waghorn., LivewireWomen's Press, Pounds 3.50

I have read dozens of books on sex, drugs, health and relationships that are supposedly aimed at teenagers but read as though they are written by clapped-out hippies trying to recapture their youth or by an out-of-touch GP without a clue about the issues that concern young people.

I picked up these books with relief. They are written in a way that I could relate to - without fussy language or a patronising tone.

I would strongly recommend My Body, Myself, which offers important advice for teenage girls without the biased and lecturing stance that parents tend to adopt.

Just 17 magazine's agony aunt, Anita Naik, gives a wide range of health advice in a reassuring tone. Issues covered range from body hair removal to sexual abuse.

Naik addresses the reader in a down-to-earth and rational way and supports her advice with statistics.

The same author's Families: can't live with them, can't live without them! is another factual, yet sympathetic, advice book compiled from letters to the author about various family life issues such as divorce, adoption, alcohol abuse and bereavement. The book also lists the telephone numbers of helpline and counselling organisations and offers common sense advice.

Tricia Kreitman's forcefully titled Say What You Mean And Get What You Want calls itself "the ultimate self-assertion book for girls" and gives true life stories of instances where girls have needed to be assertive.

The format of It Happened to Me is similar. It is a collection of MIZZ magazine readers' experiences of issues such as adoption, disappointing relationships, anorexia, bullying and period problems. Each section has a questionnaire, relevant advice and contact numbers. This book is particularly helpful for emotional advice as it reassures readers that they are not alone. The issues it deals with are relevant to teenage girls and are written in a way that can be identified with.

Livewire's serious and sometimes very touching collection on relationships, Through Thick and Thin, contains writing by 20 young women from different cultures, of different ages, different sexual orientation and who live in different areas of the country.

I found this collection heartwarming. In most cases the outcome of the relationships was positive, though some young women addressed difficult issues such as clashes with parents or being gay.

The material will lead readers to identify with the writers and their different styles mean each chapter is a refreshing change.

These five books are the essentials of the '90s girl's bookcase - now she need never feel alone again.

Jodie Abrahams is a 15-year-old London student.

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