This book is not for the faint hearted!! It explores the spirituality and faith of girls between the ages of 11-13 years old and is written from Anne’s research for her PhD. Anne did her research by actually listening to girls about their transition from girlhood to adulthood and also looks at their spirituality in a fresh way.
There is much written about the spirituality and faith of women, but very little in the area of girls and so this book is a very welcome piece of research as far as I am concerned. It seeks to address areas of self, God, church and the world from the girl’s perspective and does this very well.
One chapter looks at ways that girls learn and unpacks this in a very helpful way. My favourite chapter is the one dealing with ‘Girls in Transitional Space’ which looks at the data gained from the research and also links this to stories in the Bible of girls who are in transition. The thing that interested me most was that in interviewing the girls Anne found that they often defined themselves in contrast to boys, which is perhaps not a surprise, but they were able to articulate their feelings about this in a very adult way. They saw themselves as more mature than boys of the same age and were able to identify stereotypes for boys and girls and discrimination that they felt they had received at the hands of some teachers.
The book then goes on to look at each girl’s faith journey and how we can help to walk with them through this transition time from girlhood to womanhood. Anne critiques Erikson and his views on women’s spirituality and does this very well in my opinion. She shows that his theory of a woman’s development was not supported by her research, but there were two aspects of his theory; spiritual awareness and that feelings of grief are part of puberty for women, that were supported by her listening to the girls in the study.
It is not a book that you would read over a cup of coffee; it is a very academic book, but one that has nuggets of gold throughout the pages for those who work with girls. If you want to take your thinking and study of girls developing in their faith seriously then this is a book for you. The price may turn you off (£45.00), but I would say that it is worth the cost for those who are interested in this area.
Sharon Prior is a trainer, mentor and lecturer at Cliff College.