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ALL GIRLS: Single-Sex Education and Why It Matters

Karen Stabiner, Author
Karen Stabiner, Author . Riverhead $25.95 (400p) ISBN 978-1-57322-207-5
Paperback - 353 pages - 978-1-57322-994-4
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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 does not include a progressive co-ed school for purposes of comparison, thus readers may feel that the jury is still out on single-sex education. Her fly-on-the-wall method is effective, and parents wondering what an all-girls school is really like will learn much from her observations. Those seeking practical tips, however, won't find them here. Agent, Lynn Nesbit. (Aug. 5)

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