Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls (Ballantine Reader's Circle)

by Mary Pipher

Paperback, 1995



Local notes



Ballantine Books (1995), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 304 pages


"In 1994, Reviving Ophelia was published, and it shone a much-needed spotlight on the problems faced by adolescent girls. The book became iconic and helped to reframe the national conversation about what author Mary Pipher called "a girl-poisoning culture" surrounding adolescents. Fast forward to today, and adolescent girls and the parents, teachers, and counselors who care about them find themselves confronting many of the same challenges Pipher wrote about originally as well as new ones specific to today. In this revised and updated Reviving Ophelia, Pipher and her daughter, Sara Pipher Gilliam (who was a teenager at the time of the book's original publication), have incorporated these new issues for a 21st-century readership. In addition to examining the impact that social media has on adolescent girls' lives today, Pipher and Gilliam explore the rising and empowering importance of student activism in girls' lives, the wider acceptance of diverse communities among young people, and the growing disparities between urban and rural, rich and poor, and how they can affect young girls' sense of self-worth. With a new foreword and afterword and chapters that explore these topics, this new edition of Reviving Ophelia builds on the relevance of the original as it provides key insights into the challenges and opportunities facing adolescent girls today. The approach Pipher and Gilliam take in the new edition is just what it was in the original: a timely, readable combination of insightful research and real-world examples that illuminate the challenges young women face and the ways to address them. This updated Reviving Ophelia looks at 21st century adolescent girls through fresh eyes, with insights and ideas that will help new generations of readers." --… (more)


Original publication date


Physical description

304 p.; 8.2 inches

Media reviews

New York Times
This book was good, up until the chapter on "Sex and Violence" which turned out to be a bunch of rape stories that made me stop reading the book afterwards.

User reviews

LibraryThing member nlaurent
This book is a classic and there should not be a parent with a boy or a girl entering middle school that should not have this on their bookshelf after a careful reading. This book is what inspired me to homeschool my own daughters and allowed me to place back into context what I went through as a
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young lady. Remember though that this book was writtenn originally several years ago, and the behaviors it describes have gotten much worse for many young girls. If you get one message from this book, it's that our girls are dealing with bullying and sexual harassment not just once in awhile, but often on a literally daily basis.

It is not OK to parent with our heads in the sand, or for us to assume taht things have gotten better than when we went to school. Even if you homeschool, you must be aware of what this type of behavior looks like so you can discuss it with your daughter and perhaps even more importantly, your sons. Discussions must occur around why this impairs learning, self-image and harms the development of human potential. Don't be afraid to read this book. Be afraid NOT to read this book.
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LibraryThing member busymom51
The author is a psychologist who has specialized in working the adolescents, particularly girls. Her findings conclude that the girls of the 1990's experienced a deep crisis, brought on by the stresses of entering adolescence compounded by a culture of sexism and "lookism." She presents numerous
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case studies sorted by problem areas such as parental relationships, divorce, depressions, eating disorders, drugs and alcohol, and sex and violence. She paints a bleak but not hopeless portrait, citing girls who have come through rough situations with strength and courage. Her catch phrases - saplings in the storm, families as root systems, cactus flowers blooming in the desert - show a strong connection with nature. Much of her book is solid common sense - a girl with firm consistent guidelines, tempered with opportunities to demonstrate her independence will grow stronger than a girl with no set boundaries and no opportunities to earn the trust of her family.

Junior High is obviously the real battlefield. The onset of puberty and the tremendous pressure to conform to peer expectations changes girls dramatically. The media sends a message of superficiality and consumerism and ignores anything or anyone who isn't perfect by its own definition. Girls who feel
insecure are punished and ostracized. Girls who are different are shunned. Dr. Pipher compares the 1960's culture of her own adolescence with the 1990's and illustrates the complexity of being a 1990 teenager versus the relative simplicity of 30 years prior. A sobering and frightening book but a must read.
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LibraryThing member Marse
Mary Pipher's book was written in the 90s and was a wake-up call to parents of adolescent girls. While it is important in documenting how rough the world has become for adolescent girls, it doesn't really offer much practical advice for parents of today. If you are reading this book for tips on how
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to get your daughter through those awful times, then I would skip all the case studies (taken together they are quite frightening for a parent) and just read the last chapter where the author gives a general overview of what type of parenting seems to have given the most benefit to daughters. It's not much, but it is a starting point.
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LibraryThing member nm.spring08.m.zurita
Reviving Ophelia is a great book about teenage girls dealing with problems in their lives. Their problems are the same that most girls have. It tells true stories about how the girls deal with their problems and how it helps them. If you have any problems with almost anything this book is great to
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teach how to deal with them. It explains how girls are affected by the media, peers, family, relationships, drugs, violence, and sex. I liked this book because it is very interesting and the stories are true stories not made up ones. Even though this book was written in 1994. The girls in the book are very similar to the girls now days. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read about real life problems that they have or know someone that has problems. I recommend this book especially to girls because this book is mainly focused on problems that adololecent girls have. The stories can help you with your problems.
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LibraryThing member pru-lennon
girls in the '90s had it rough according to mary pipher. the world was so different from her '50s childhood era where girls/women have to learn to lead a restricted life in order to be safe b/c we live in a junk culture w/junk values that demeans women. she feels that we need to change our
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institutions and our cultures so that females aren't battered, raped and demeaned and where males don't feel the need to perpetrate such behaviors. if you're a parent or think you'll ever be one, no matter if you have a son or daughter, i think "reviving ophelia" is worth reading for ideas about how to parent an adolescent, male or female, in the best way possible for a culture that has values not in the best interest of people.
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LibraryThing member zhukora
I borrowed this book off my mother's bookshelf twelve or thirteen years ago when I was just entering adolescence myself. My mother never got it back. The book is ostensibly a parenting-oriented psychology text, but I think it was likely far more useful to me as a girl on the cusp of the age range
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discussed in the book than it would have been in the hands of my mother.

Young as I was, this was the first explicitly feminist text I had ever been exposed to, and for the first time in my life it was able to give me a framework for understanding and a means of describing and recognizing the tensions and problems I was beginning to be able to detect in the environment around me and in the girls who were my friends and classmates. It didn't really matter to me that the girls whose stories were featured in the book were by and large far more troubled than myself or any of the adolescents I knew; I could still relate to the angst, insecurities, and general mien shown in their stories. To a degree, both at the time and still today, I felt that having a broader and more holistic understanding of what made things go wrong for so many girls inoculated me against many of these same problems, and allowed me to adopt more effective coping strategies for the drama that inevitably comes with simply being a young teen, and especially with being a young teenage girl.

The text in Reviving Ophelia is fairly simple, straightforward, and concisely described. For all that it's firmly grounded in feminist theory and psychotherapeutic practice, it's neither overly academic nor bogged down in complex theoretical nuance. It is certainly valuable reference reading for parents of preadolescent girls to prepare them for what their daughters may soon be subject to, but I think it can just as effectively (if not more so) be treated as an invaluable toolkit for young girls themselves who may already be confused by the changes thrown at them by biology and their social group, as a means of clarifying and educating them about the hazards of youth in a superficial society.
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LibraryThing member LyondeClarasval
This is a keeper. Kept on my bookshelf as a reminder, and it's been useful as much for healing myself as understanding and helping the teenage girls I work with.

I think this book needs to reach parents somehow. Professionals deal with the aftereffects, it would be nice to get this to parents
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before the trouble begins alienating their daughters from them.
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LibraryThing member DioceseofOttawa
Here, for the first time, are girls' unmuted voices from the front lines of adolscence, personal and painfully honest. By laying bare their harsh day-to-day reality, Reviving Ophelia issues a call to arms and offers parents compassion, and strategies with which to revive these Ophelias' lost sense
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of self.
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LibraryThing member jenreidreads
A must-read for all women.
LibraryThing member herdingcats
Dr. Pipher shares her experiences of treating teenage girls in her psychology practice and gives practical advice to parents and other adults about what teenage girls are going through, how they think and how to help them through adolescence. As a teacher - I taught middle school for 13 years and
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now substitute in middle and high schools - and as a parent of two daughters - one who is 19 and one who is 10, I found the book to be very practical and helpful.
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LibraryThing member t1bnotown
If I have a daughter, I will have her read this book when she's a teen. I think all teens should read it- I wish I'd read it as a teen. It was fascinating and insightful.
LibraryThing member engpunk77
Read this while I was in college because it interested me (it wasn't assigned). Pipher provides answers to the mysterious (ridiculous) behavior of adolescent girls. Having been the most awful adolescent--a curse to a hopeful mother--I was definitely curious. If only my mother could have read this
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back then! This book explains it all; mostly the affect our society has on developing young girls. It seems I was destined to suffer from depression, low self-esteem, an eating disorder, and a toxic relationship with my mother (not her fault!) Pipher helps adolescents and their baffled, suffering mothers understand their problems, behaviors, and motivations. I recommend this book to this group as well as grown women who are interested in women's issues.
This particular copy has been lent to friend's aunt, who read it during a time of crisis with her own teenage daughter. (It helped, she says). She left it in the rain, which explains its appropriately warped body--
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LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
Reviving Ophelia takes personal stories of girls and connects them to larger cultural issues. While written in the mid-nineties, and a little out of date in places, for the most part Dr. Pipher still delivers sound advice, often sharing tidbits about herself along the way. Pipher is a child of the
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1950s, and even though the writing is over thirty years old, her stories still hold up. Who hasn’t been “untrue” to themselves, lying about their level of hunger, downplaying grades, pretending to like a style of music or fashion to impress someone else? Peggy Orenstein addresses eating disorders in Schoolgirls in much the same way as Pipher. At times, the stories of girls with overwhelming desires to be thin were so similar I would forget which book, Pipher or Orenstein, I was reading. Reviving Ophelia is different from Schoolgirls in that Pipher is drawing from actual therapy sessions while Orenstein visited two different middle schools and interviewed children in a different atmosphere.
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½ (465 ratings; 3.7)
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