cover image One in a Millennial: On Friendship, Feelings, Fangirls, and Fitting In

One in a Millennial: On Friendship, Feelings, Fangirls, and Fitting In

Kate Kennedy. St. Martin’s, $30 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-28512-6

Be There in Five podcaster Kennedy debuts with a perceptive personal meditation on the late 1990s and early 2000s pop culture that shaped her childhood. Looking back on her “homogenous suburban Virginia” upbringing, she discusses feeling uneasy about conforming to consumerist visions of femininity during her preteen years, when she sought “self-improvement through consumption” by shopping at Limited Too and played such board games as Pretty Pretty Princess, “where you’re taught success means simply just collecting more jewelry.” Concerns about authenticity pop up in Kennedy’s account of repressing her personal style to adopt the posh, preppy aesthetics of her high school’s popular girls (she recounts buying and tailoring Ralph Lauren polos, whose logo was a vaunted status symbol, from the “little boys’ husky section” because the shirts were cheaper than those made for women). Elsewhere, she expounds on the pleasure of “pregaming” with friends before a night out (her “favorite mid-aughts bonding ritual” in college), the unrealistic romantic expectations she imbibed from NSYNC songs, and the misogynistic portrayal of Saved by the Bell character Jessie Spano. Kennedy provides memoir by way of cultural commentary, cleverly using her hybrid approach to highlight the ways in which trends and media popular during one’s formative years profoundly influence one’s identity. Told with wit and candor, this will strike a chord with Gen Yers. (Jan.)