Written by Jacqui Palumbo, NCS

Keeping you within the know, Culture Queue is an ongoing sequence of suggestions for well timed books to learn, movies to observe and podcasts and music to hearken to.

Like many women who grew up within the ’90s, journalist Masuma Ahuja typically discovered her personal experiences mirrored in Ann M. Martin’s sequence “The Babysitters’ Club.” Her favourite character was the effortlessly polished Stacey McGill, however not essentially for her type or New York City roots: Stacey, like Ahuja, is a Type I diabetic, and, as a baby, Ahuja did not know anybody else her age who handled the day-to-day complexity of the illness.

“Those books were really important to me, because it was a way for me to feel seen, and to understand that I wasn’t alone, even if it was a fictional character,” stated Ahuja in a video interview.

As an grownup, Ahuja has reported on the lives of ladies and ladies via a political and social lens for the Washington Post and NCS. But her first guide, “Girlhood: Teens Around the World in Their Own Voices” chronicles the on a regular basis lives of 30 ladies, ages 13 to 19, from their very own views. Together, they arrive from 27 totally different international locations.

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“Girlhood” highlights the lives of 30 totally different ladies who’re 13 to 19 years outdated. Credit: Courtesy Algonquin Young Readers/Masuma Ahuja

If, like Ahuja, you discover resonance within the particulars of others’ lives, the diaristic entries provide an anthology of experiences you could maintain returning to. Through “Girlhood,” Ahuja units out to reply the query, “How would the story of girlhood be told if girls were the ones to write it?”

“When I was reporting on important subjects like gender-based violence or child marriage, I would end up having long chats with girls about… the things they were staying up nights worrying about, or the conversations they were having with their friends,” Ahuja stated. “And the stuff of day-to-day life, which felt like it was universal, wherever you were, wasn’t actually covered in any media and wasn’t represented in any meaningful way, which is why I set out to do this.”

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Halima, a 17-year-old, from Afghanistan desires to develop into a midwife and educate English on the college degree, or develop into a journalist. “Afghan society is still a male-dominated society,” she wrote in “Girlhood.” “People do not believe in power of their daughters.”
Credit: Courtesy Algonquin Young Readers/Masuma Ahuja

Those nuances of on a regular basis life are equally typically bypassed in popular culture stories of teenagerdom, the place drama is heightened in service of the narrative.

“We get to see the highlights and the lowlights and we don’t get to see the in-between, and the in-between is how most people spend most of their lives,” she stated. “And that felt like a theme that was resonant in a lot of girls’ entries as well, where they assumed that other people’s lives were more interesting.”

‘There’s a lot universality within the methods wherein we transfer via the world’

Though Ahuja supplies her personal further context about every of the teenager contributors, “Girlhood” was meant to be a clean slate that the ladies might fill in themselves. There’s Alejandra, a 17-year-old from Buenos Aires, who performs soccer however was intimidated at first by the game; in the meantime in London, 14-year-old Amiya writes on being biracial and the politics of her hair.

“I was born with an afro and I must embrace it, because that’s how God intended it to be. I may occasionally feel like the odd one out, but that’s who I am,” Amiya wrote. “It’s also made me realise that as black women — and black men, too — we’re constantly put down because of our hair unless it’s conventionally straight or curly. It’s bloody irritating.”


Emma, 16 years outdated, from Ireland, spends her free time working fan accounts for Canadian singer Shawn Mendes. “Girls are such drivers of pop culture everywhere in the world,” Ahuja famous, calling them a “powerful force.” Credit: Courtesy Algonquin Young Readers/Masuma Ahuja

In entries from 16-year-old Chanleakna about leaving Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to check overseas in Australia, Ahuja noticed flashes of her personal childhood. Ahuja had lived in three totally different international locations — India, the US and the UK — by the point she was a school scholar, and she might relate to feeling a pull from her residence.

“That experience of leaving home and trying to figure out your place in the world and living in a new environment away from your family at a young age (reoccurred) through a lot of the stories, which I was very surprised by because I didn’t realize it was as common an experience as it is,” Ahuja stated.

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Sattigul, a 16-year-old from Mongolia, was born right into a household of nomadic herders who transfer 4 instances a yr. She is pictured along with her eagle, Akhyikh, who she writes “always gives me courage and energy.” Credit: Courtesy Algonquin Young Readers/Masuma Ahuja

No matter how seemingly disparate the ladies’ lives had been, Ahuja discovered that they typically handled the identical issues of their household life or with their mates.

“There’s so much universality in the ways in which we move through the world, and the things we hope for and dream about and we worry about,” she added. But, she identified, the inequalities that ladies face additionally share a symmetry. “The forces that make girls everywhere — and women everywhere — feel small, and compel us to be silent; the ways in which we are taught by culture to think that we’re not enough… that is very similar across the board.”

“Girlhood: Teens Around the World in Their Own Voices,” revealed by Algonquin Young Readers, is available now.

Add to Queue: Inside the minds of ladies

Director Catherine Hardwicke’s drama depicted the lives of former good woman Tracy (performed by Evan Rachel Wood) and her new influential buddy Evie (Nikki Reed) as they spiral into intercourse, medication and shoplifting. Reed was 13 years outdated when she co-wrote the screenplay, then introduced Evie to life onscreen the next yr.

Read: Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson (2016)

Woodson remembers her childhood in verse, telling the story of feeling cut up between South Carolina and New York as she grew up as a young Black woman within the Nineteen Sixties and ’70s.

Listen:Fake it Flowers” by Beabadoobee (2020)

The 20-year-old Filipino-British guitarist and singer, who rose to fame via YouTube and TikTok, throws it again with a ’90s alt-rock vibe on her debut album about the highs and lows of young love.

Read:Walk Two Moons” by Sharon Creech (2003)

Creech’s beloved guide tells the story of 13-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle, who embarks on a highway journey along with her grandparents and weaves collectively an imaginative story whereas looking for clues of her personal lacking mom.

Watch: Now and Then” (1995)
In this quintessential coming-of-age flick with an all-star forged, together with Christina Ricci, Rosie O’Donnell, Thora Birch, Melanie Griffith and Demi Moore, 4 childhood greatest mates reunite and flash again to the pivotal summer time of their youthful years.
Watch:Girl Rising” (2013)

This documentary introduces viewers to 9 brave ladies across the globe who’re chasing their desires. They work with writers and A-List narrators, together with Meryl Streep, Kerry Washington, Chloe Moretz and Salma Hayek to inform their stories.

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