Literature review for young adults: The evolution of a girl


The Evolution of a Girl by LE Bowman, illustrated by Marie Worden
Posted by Black Castle Media Group

It’s the kind of poetry book that even if you finish it quickly, you’ll come back to it again and again. While I think many audiences would benefit from and appreciate Bowman’s meaningful and accessible writing style, this book so honestly – almost to the point of brutality – portrays what it is to be a young woman that it seems to send a message to adolescent girls, that their experiences do not and will not isolate them.

Her poems explore the difference between what the world is like as a girl, as a woman, and the transition period between them. There’s an understanding of exquisite pain and joy in every part of growing up, and while it doesn’t exactly follow a narrative structure like a movie, fictional novel, or play would, it feels more like to a coming-of-age story than to much of the content of this genre

The first section of the book reflects on what it is like to be a girl and shares personal and generalized experiences that often intersect. She explains living as a youngster with a combination of fear and recklessness, not knowing who to trust or how to take care of yourself in an elegant and simplistic way.

This part recounts mistakes made in youth, with a deeply sincere sympathy for the origin of these choices, and that healing cannot exist without this wound.

While other themes revolve around it and relate in their own way, much of the book centers around being in an unhealthy relationship and feeling like it’s ending. Although time has clearly passed since this part of the story, much of what makes this beginning section so gripping is that it comes across as fresh, the raw pain, longing and confusion of losing someone you were never meant to have feels like it just happened.

As the book progresses through the stage of transformation, we discover maturity as it is in real life – with pain and time. There are flashes of the intense passion and hurt of the previous section, but balanced by a distinct sense of growth.

Bowman is here about developing your own identity. As it clicks into a place of rebirth and femininity, there is of course justified anger, wishing revenge for an innocence once taken advantage of.

Anger is often thought of as a destination after being hurt but Evolution Of A Girl goes further, acknowledging that feeling of rage, even expressing it but coming to a place of divine sweetness. There is strength in learning to be kind in a way that serves yourself and those in need after giving that kindness to all the bad people who saw it as a weakness.

It’s partly a book of poetry, but more than that it feels like a guide to growing up, a guide that speaks the truth with understanding and inspires self-love and growth at a time when it’s vital.

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