I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World

By Eve Ensler

(Random House, $13, 192 pages)

Who is this author?

Eve Ensler’s name may not be immediately familiar to you, but I’ll bet the title of her internationally performed and powerfully provocative play, “The Vagina Monologues” is.

Ensler, who lives in New York and Paris, is a bestselling author and a playwright whose works also include “Necessary Targets” and “The Good Body.” She has also written a political memoir, “Insecure at Last,” and she founded V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls, which has raised more than $70 million for grassroots groups dedicated to doing just that around the world.

The Hartford Public Library selected “I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World” to be its One Book One Hartford choice this spring, and is now offering an intriguing program of book discussions, forums, readings, films, art exhibits and more at the Downtown Library and all its neighborhood branch libraries, culminating in a free talk by Ensler at the Downtown Library on May 6 at 4 p.m., followed by a ticketed appearance presented by the Mark Twain House &Museum Center, Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and World Affairs Council that day at 7:30 p.m. at Cheney Hall in Manchester ($45 and $75).

Information on library One Book events: 860-695-6096 orwww.onebookonehartford.org.

Information on the Cheney Hall event: 860-647-9824 or www.marktwainhouse.org.

What is this book about?

The book is a collection of fictional monologues, poems, blog entries, conversations and stories inspired by girls the world over.  Ensler based the pieces in this book on actual conversations she had with young women in many countries. They speak out and up about problems they face, from something as seemingly trivial as wearing the wrong color boots (and paying an outsized social price for not fitting in) to coping with sex slavery. Just as “The Vagina Monologues” aimed at empowering women about their bodies and sexuality, this book’s goal is to give legitimacy to the feelings, thoughts and problems of teenage girls.

Why you’ll like it:

Ensler brings the skills of a dramatist to her book, employing vivid and compelling voices to express the concerns she heard about in her many discussions with young women. The book opens a door to their world, and while some may find disturbing things there, reading it is a valuable experience.

What others are saying:

“The collection shines when dealing with more serious material (arranged marriages, genital mutilation), but those powerful pieces unintentionally overshadow the more common concerns of girls struggling to fit in or cope with the popular crowd. As such, the average American teenager should gain a good bit of perspective…” says Publishers Weekly.

“Written in the same format as her watershed work, “The Vagina Monologues” (1998), Ensler’s latest mélange of dramatic voices continues the mission of her philanthropic organization, V-Day, to stop violence against women. Published for adults but aimed straight at young adults, this volume provides a searing look at the inner lives of young females today in entries that explore sex, violence, love, body image, materialism, identity, family, friends, and the future,” says Booklist.

“ ‘I am an Emotional Creature’ is a collection of writings – including monologues, dialogues, poems, and stories – that paint a picture of what it is like to be a teenage girl in contemporary society. Ensler writes from the perspective of a wide variety of girls dealing with vastly different issues, from the girl living in an American suburb suffering from anorexia to a Chinese factory worker who works twelve-hour days to make the heads of Barbie dolls. The common thread amongst all of these characters is the unique balancing act of pleasing others and pleasing one’s self that is characteristic of being a teenage girl,” says a female reviewer on Goodreads.

“As a male, it was hard to read Ensler’s work without going through stages of denial, guilt, recognition and solidarity with women. As the acclaimed author of “The Vagina Monologues,” Ensler has been recognized as a pioneer. In this work, she enters territory that has been explored but mines it more deeply…. Yes, the work is written for girls, but it could also deepen the insights of boys,” says a male Goodreads reviewer.

When is it available?

It is available now at the Downtown Hartford Public Library and its branches.

Do you have something to say about this book, this author or books in general? Please post your comments here and I will respond. Let’s get a good books conversation going!

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