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Generation Chef by Karen Stabiner
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All Girls Editorial Reviews

All Girls book coverPublishers Weekly

Journalist Stabiner (To Dance with the Devil: The New War on Breast Cancer) turns her incisive reporting skills to life at two girls' schools in this paean to single-sex education. She spent a year observing students at Marlborough, an elite Los Angeles prep school, and at The Young Women's Leadership School (TYWLS), a public school in East Harlem. Alternating chapters between the schools, Stabiner traces the aspirations and accomplishments of the girls and their teachers. Painting a vivid picture of the students' lives, the book seems at times more like a novel than nonfiction, with a cast of over 22 characters. Stabiner resists imbuing the text with her own opinions, and she explains that if she has included her subjects' feelings or private thoughts it's because "they told me about them." As a strong "show, don't tell" writer, she lets readers learn through classroom scenarios, showing, for instance, that it can be trying for teachers to get adolescent girls to speak up in class, yet by the end of the year, many have gained the confidence to speak out and to concentrate on honing their brain power rather than their popularity. . . .  [Stabiner’s] fly-on-the-wall method is effective, and parents wondering what an all-girls school is really like will learn much from her observations.
© 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Library Journal

All-girl schools: are they throwbacks to pre-women's lib days or cutting-edge public education systems? Stabiner (To Dance with the Devil: The New War on Breast Cancer) here attempts to uncover the answer. In All Girls, the reader meets Amy Lopez, one of the brightest students in her grade at TYWLS; Katie Tower, a senior at Marlborough who is expected to do great things in her final year because of her past schoolwork; Christina Kim, the best student in Marlborough's senior class; and TYWLS's Maryam Zohny, the daughter of Egyptian immigrants, who sacrifices play for homework to make something of herself and make her widowed mother proud. Stabiner follows these four and many of their classmates through the school year and details teachers and administrators as well. In her introduction, she confesses that while she first thought girls' schools were for girls who couldn't handle the real world, after spending a school year in such institutions and seeing how self-confident and comfortable the students were, she changed her mind. Stabiner does not advocate the complete overhaul of our educational system to create single-sex institutions but instead aims to stir educators and parents to dialog and, she hopes, action by clearly and thoughtfully presenting evidence of the benefits of such schools. For most public libraries. Terry Christner, Hutchinson P.L., KS
© 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


As in her well-received account of breast-cancer patients and their doctors, To Dance with the Devil (1997), Stabiner offers a penetrating expose that focuses on the daily lives of her subjects. Here, she contrasts a year in two all-girls' schools: a public charter school in Harlem (the Young Women's Leadership School), and an elite, private school in L.A. (Marlborough). Stabiner visited both schools extensively, and in chapters that alternate between locations, she brings readers into the classrooms, hallways, and family homes of the students, teachers, and administrators at each school. Aside from a concise, impassioned introduction, Stabiner doesn't draw any conclusions or spout dramatic statistics about single-sex education. Instead, she lets the personal stories speak, and her prose is at its sharpest when describing the girls' college-application process--the crushing intensity, the rigorous calculation, the mercurial emotions, and the system's inscrutable logic. Moving, intimate, and revealing, this account raises larger questions about how success is measured; the questionable importance of a "brand-name" education; and the specific, evolving needs of today's teenage girls.
Gillian Engberg
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