The Drama Years

Posted September 20, 2012 by Tara in Review /// 1 Comment

This cover actually does a good job of showing what this books is about.

The Drama Years
by Haley Kilpatrick
Narrated by Hannah Rose Mate
Post-Hypnotic Press, 2012
6 hours, 39 minutes
Audiobook for review from publisher
[#59 in my 75 book challenge]

The Drama Years is a guide for parents about raising healthy, happy tweens and teens. The author, Haley Kilpatrick, gives advice from her experience working with Girl Talk, an organization she started in high school. In Girl Talk, high school girls mentor middle school girls by offering advice about how to navigate friends, school, and family. Kilpatrick’s own experiences in middle school, where an older friend in a dance class was her mentor, inspired the club. Now there are many Girl Talk groups across the country. Kilpatrick’s advice comes from her experiences as a tween, her experiences with Girl Talk, and insight from girls in their own words.

Okay. I’ll start with the good stuff. If you are a parent of a tween or teen, this book is probably a good read. Think of it as advice from some one who spends a lot of time listening to tweens talk about their own lives. Kilpatrick does not have kids of her own, so she is able to straddle that objective fence between understanding the needs of kids and the frustrations of the adults in their lives. She offers “Three Takeaways to Downplay the Drama” (find a surrogate older sister, join an activity, and volunteer), and reinforces these throughout her look at various issues tween and teens face in growing up. Chapters cover everything, including helping tweens navigate friendships, the need to own name brands, family drama, and more serious dramas. I thought the chapter on name brands in particular was useful and well-written. Reading this book would be a good way to understand some of what tween daughters are going through, and offers commonsense, practical advice.

On the other hand, the doctoral student in me was a little critical of the book. Kilpatrick’s entire premise was anecdotal — there is very little research involved in the claims she makes. Her advice comes from running a mentorship club in local middle schools. Moreover, Kilpatrick is not a parent. Though this can be seen as a positive (see above), I found myself wondering what she’ll say a few years down the road when she has kids of her own. I can see parents having a hard time taking her advice because she lacks the “street cred” of navigating tween relationships in her own home.

About the audio book: The audio book was a good listen in the car, but the narrator (Hannah Rose Mate) drove me nuts. Her style of narration was extremely distracting. It felt like she was over over-ennouncating each word. It also felt lke she was trying too hard to put an auditory smile at the end of each sentence. This was most annoying when she was reading the quotes given by girls — I’m guessing she was trying to sound like a teenage girl, but it just sounded weird.

FINAL GRADE:  C  This book isn’t going to give you bad advice. If you are a parent struggling with how raise your tween, it’s probably going to give you good advice. I probably would have bought it for the parents resource center at my school, since the writing is accessible and practical for busy parents. It’s pretty clear that I read it with the wrong mindset (I’m looking pretty seriously at studying gender issues in education, specifically the middle grades, for my Ph.D), so I was a little disappointed by the lack of more scholarly content.

Do you remember your own tween years? What advice do you wish your parents had been given? Do you have tweens of your own? What advice do you have/need?


Tara is a PhD student studying education. Her dissertation will be on digital book communities as public pedagogy (ask her about it!), though she often takes a break from all of that to read books about oppressive governments and sassy teenagers. In a former life, she was a middle school teacher and middle school librarian. In her future life, she's a professor of YA lit. In her free time, she drinks a lot of coffee while planning her next grand adventure (there's always something).

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