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Women's issues

SECONDARY. CROSSING THE LINE: YOUNG WOMEN AND THE LAW. Edited by Carol Drinkwater. The Women's Press pound;4.99. FAMILY FALLOUT: YOUNG WOMEN TALK ABOUT FAMILY BrEAK-UP. Edited by Helen Hines. The Women's Press pound;4.99. SIZEABLE REFLECTIONS: BIG WOMEN LIVING FULL LIVES. Edited by Shelley Bovey. The Women's Press pound;8.99.

In Crossing the Line: Young Women and the Law, young women describe how they turned to crime, running away from home or drug addiction. Tara tells of first beginning to lose her emotional equilibrium when she was 13; a delayed reponse to years of sexual abuse by a primary school teacher. She felt betrayed when her lawyer father and school governor mother didn't believe her. The consequence was a nine-year cycle of self-destruction, featuring sex, drugs and living with abusive men. Today, she's happy, articulate and clear about how she will raise her own child to survive in the big, bad world.

While we don't often hear the emotions and perceptions of the 25 per cent of children whose parents split up, their voices come through inall their diversity, strength and honesty in Family Fallout: Young Women Talk About Family Break-up. We know the grim stereotypes of the "broken family", but what we hear in this anthology is that for some daughters, divorce is a relief after years of rows or uneasy silence. What's also evident is how clumsy some parents can be in breaking the news to their children. Rebecca Woollard was told by her mum at 10pm the night before her dad was to move out.

Sizeable Reflections: Big Women Living Full Lives is bursting with resilient, positive, successful women who happen to be on the wrong side of acceptable in terms of their weight. Miriam Margolyes tells us: "I have not allowed my weight to come between me and the wider world. My fat isn't an obsession, it is a regret." But her upbeat parting shot reflects the tone of the other contributors: "Let's try to see through each other, be philosophical about the things we can't change, take care of our health as best we can and when making love, don't squash our partners."

Reva Klein

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