September 5, 2020

Review: A Smart Girl's Guide: Crushes

A Smart Girl's Guide: Crushes
Illustrated by Elisa Chavarri
Available now from American Girl
Review copy

The Smart Girl's Guide to Boys has been fully updated to become A Smart Girl's Guide: Crushes: Dating, Rejection, and Other Stuff. This book is a timely, relevant guide for young girls who are starting to become hormonal.

 The most obvious update to the material is the A Smart Girl's Guide: Crushes acknowledges that girls might have crushes on boys, girls, both, or neither (and that the same goes for boys). Most of the examples use boys and straight is generally assumed as the default, but there are nods to same-gender attraction throughout. (There is no trans inclusivity that I noticed, which is a lack.)

Elisa Chavarri's cartoons liven up the proceedings and also work to include all girls. There are boys and girls of many ethnicities shown, some variations in body types, and a very few disabled people. 

 I appreciate that the focus of A Smart Girl's Guide: Crushes is on how to handle crushes without losing sight of yourself and the things you value, such as schoolwork and friends. It covers many tricky situations, including how to say no clearly to someone who asks you out (without being mean) and how to dump someone (with signs of when it needs to be done).

The content is carefully targeted to the age group and doesn't go past kissing and hand holding. The book gets raciest when talking about things to watch out for. For instance, if a boy sends a girl a photo of  a woman in lingerie, that is harassment, not flirting. A Smart Girl's Guide: Crushes also covers tough situations like if a friend's boyfriend is being mean to her or if friends report to you that your boyfriend is mean to people when you aren't around. Though domestic abuse is a heavy topic, these red flags are handled at an entirely appropriate level with sensible advice.

I also appreciated how A Smart Girl's Guide: Crushes handled the role of social media and texts in modern-day flirting and dating, with reminders that texts and photos can be forever through screenshots and forwarding. The example shown is an embarrassing photo wearing a face mask, but teaching children to stop and think before sending even innocent photos is a good foundation. The book also emphasizes that selfies should also never be sent to people you only know through online games, but only to people you know in real life.

A Smart Girl's Guide: Crushes also doesn't give in to silly romcom logic. If someone starts dating someone they knew you were crushing on, that's fine. A crush isn't dibs. You can date someone a friend used to date and broke up with. There's also some handy gentle advice on how to avoid getting sucked into drama.

I think A Smart Girl's Guide: Crushes is a handy book to pass on to any young girl in your life. I suggest reading it first, so you know the jumping-off points for anything you might want to talk about in more depth.

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