Thursday, September 21, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: Miss Understanding by Stephanie Lessing

Zoe Rose isn’t a typical girl. Ever since the little girls in kindergarten tormented her for not sharing her “Annie” wig (it was her own hair), she has been fascinated with girl behavior. She’s spent her life trying to understand what makes a normal girl and why they’re cruel to the girls who don’t understand the rules. And who exactly sets those rules?

Now she’s been hired as the editor of Issues magazine, a bastion of all that is girly and fashionista and she’s made it her crusade to reform women, starting with the readers of this notorious magazine. Can Zoe help Issues readers stop being girls who behave badly toward other girls, and turn them into a strong, united force of women that succeed in the male-dominated world? And will she finally understand what it means to be a girl?

Starting with the question “What would happen if a left-wing, radical feminist was suddenly appointed deputy editor of an ultra-girly fashion magazine,” Stephanie Lessing’s Miss Understanding looks at the world of fashion from a slightly different angle. It’s a refreshing break from mainstream chick lit, although the bitchiness factor is very high between the staff at Issues.

The conflict within Miss Understanding comes from the tension between fashion and feminism, representing the fight many women feel played out within their daily lives. Does Miss Understanding answer the questions Lessing raises? The short answer is no. The long answer is that she raises some important questions and she may help some readers start some inner reflection. This reader found Zoe’s psychosomatic illnesses detracted from Lessing’s key messages but that does not undermine the pure enjoyment factor of Miss Understanding.

Stephanie Lessing is a former Copy Chief at Mademoiselle, and has freelanced for Mademoiselle, Vogue, Glamour, Vanity Fair, Conde Nast Traveler, and Self. Miss Understanding is her second novel.

ISBN10: 0061133884
ISBN13: 9780061133886

Publisher: Avon Trade
Publication Date: November 2006
Binding: Trade Paperback
Author Website:



Kate S. said...

A very interesting premise! It sounds intriguing even if the author doesn't quite manage to pull it off.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Cliff's gotta hate me... you're making my wish list reach epic proportions! :D

karen! said...

I see that you're offering this one in the Yankee Book Swap ;)

Janelle Martin said...

Yes, I am offering this in the Yankee Book Swap on - it seemed like one that would appeal to people.