Melissa Febos (Author)
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National Book Critics Circle Award Winner
Lambda Literary Award Finalist
Written with Febos' characteristic precision, lyricism, and insight, Girlhood is a philosophical treatise, an anthem for women, and a searing study of the transitions into and away from girlhood, toward a chosen self.
March 30, 2021
5.6 X 8.4 X 1.2 inches | 1.1 pounds
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About the Author
Melissa Febos is the author of the memoir Whip Smart, the essay collection, Abandon Me, and a craft book, Body Work. A 2022 Guggenheim Fellow, she is also the inaugural winner of the Jeanne Córdova Nonfiction Award from LAMBDA Literary and the recipient of fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, MacDowell, Bread Loaf, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, The BAU Institute, Vermont Studio Center, The Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and others. Her essays have appeared in The Paris Review, The Believer, McSweeney's Quarterly, Granta, Sewanee Review, Tin House, The Sun, and The New York Times. She is an associate professor at the University of Iowa, where she teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program.
"Girlhood is an exquisite collection. In lapidary, lucid prose, Melissa Febos dissects the traumas, terrors, and pleasures of the fraught passage from girl to woman. Febos's insight is devastating, the examinations of her world - from the female body, queerness, consent, slut-shaming, and intimacy - are rigorous and compassionate. This is a book for mothers, daughters, and our deepest selves, a true light in the dark." --Stephanie Danler, author of SWEETBITTER"In this book, Febos proves herself to be one of the great documenters of the terrible and exquisite depths of girlhood. Here, that terrible and beautiful aeon is dissected, sung over, explored like ancient ruins. These essays are moss and iron-hard and beautiful-and struck through with Febos' signature brilliance and power and grace. An essential, heartbreaking project." --Carmen Maria Machado, author of IN THE DREAM HOUSE and HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES "Melissa Febos is part poet, part theorist, and all writer. In this lyrical, searching, profound, and personal collection, Febos examines childhood, femaleness, and love in its many forms with a sensuous ferocity that is all her own." --Ariel Levy, author of The Rules Do Not Apply and Female Chauvinist Pigs "In eight haunting essays, Melissa Febos unearths the trauma of her adolescence as she picks apart the burdens that accompany being a young woman. In sharing the darkness that clouded her coming of age, Febos asks pointed questions about the expectations placed on women and how they impact a person's sense of self." --Time "Drawing on personal history, cultural analysis, and investigative reporting, Melissa Febos interrogates the meaning of girlhood, the narratives we've been sold, and the realities of growing up a woman." --Buzzfeed, most anticipated books of 2021 "Intellectual and erotic, engaging and empowering, Girlhood lays bare the process of unlearning the most deeply ingrained lesson of female adolescence-that we ourselves are not masters of our own domain-and offers us exquisite, ferocious language for embracing self-pleasure and self-love." --O, the Oprah Magazine "Melissa Febos brings lyric and merciless scrutiny to how women are conditioned to accept misogyny as their due. . . By drawing upon cultural materials for her kaleidoscopic investigation, Febos does for girlhood what Maggie Nelson did for pregnancy in The Argonauts." --The Rumpus "Melissa Febos is a precise, visceral chronicler of what it means to be a woman in the world...[Girlhood] is fierce and lyrical, furious and tender; a vital read for anyone figuring out who they really are, and have always been." --Refinery29, Best New Books to Read In 2021 "To counter society's patriarchal standards and stereotypes enmesh girls in a web of unreachable expectations of mind, body and soul, Melissa Febos offers ideas to disrupt the normative narratives surrounding girlhood and encourages us to recreate ourselves according to ourselves." --Ms. "Melissa Febos just revived me in the most spectacular way. Girlhood blazes through the stories we've been told with a dazzling fury and a brilliant beauty. Whatever we are or were, this is a map to a new becoming. Between the intellect and the body a third term emerges, dissolving binaries and reinventing the space of erotic power and creativity. A fuck-all guide to resilience and reclamation, a breathtaking reimagination of who we might be in spite of what we've been told. Girlhood will bring you back to life." --Lidia Yuknavitch, author of VERGE "At once intimate and didactic, lyric and wise, Girlhood is a must-read hybrid text for women looking to define themselves from the inside. This book is an exorcism of social messaging and external gazes, and Febos is a warm and erudite exorcist." --Melissa Broder, author of THE PISCES "Reading Girlhood felt like having a spell whispered into my ear. You carve yourself, Melissa Febos writes, and the phrase becomes command, elegy, incantation. In these pages she conjures not only the past, but an allegory of experience at once universal and exquisitely personal. Intimate, urgent, and stunningly beautiful, this is a book that will be passed from hand to hand, from heart to heart." --Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, author THE FACT OF A BODY "American patriarchy teaches so many of us to hate our own bodies and stifle our own desires-to make ourselves smaller in every way. Girlhood is a smart, fierce, gloriously sensual critique of these lessons by a writer who has fought hard to unlearn them. Thank you, Melissa Febos, for charting this magnificent route of queer feminist resistance!" --Leni Zumas, author of RED CLOCKS "This is a book you'll wish you had in your youth, but one you'll be glad to have now." --OprahMag.com, Most Anticipated Books of 2021 "A gorgeously written, perfectly calibrated investigation into the traps, paths, and challenges of being female in this world. It's a stunner of a book." --Jami Attenberg, author of ALL THIS COULD BE YOURS "Lucid and timely...The great surprise of Girlhood is how masterfully Febos reinvents the path to womanhood, a philosopher's eye turned protectively towards the tenderest parts of the writer's former self." --Wendy S. Walters, author of MULTIPLY/ DIVIDE "[Febos] picks at the ways women are taught to be "female" - and what it means to remove oneself from such expectations. Febos' lyrical, meditative writing makes it all the easier to ponder her critical questions and explorations." --San Francisco Chronicle "How do you heal from the pain of growing up? This question, refracted through a feminist lens, lies at the heart of Melissa Febos's essay collection, Girlhood. With psychological clarity and emotional precision, Febos revisits the past to rewrite the future." --Columbia Journal "Raw and unflinching, this dark coming-of-age story impresses at every turn." --Publishers Weekly "Profound and gloriously provocative, this book. . . transforms the wounds and scars of lived female experience into an occasion for self-understanding that is both honest and lyrical. Consistently illuminating, unabashedly ferocious writing." --Kirkus Reviews "Melissa Febos's writing is always luminous, fearless, and blazing with intelligence." --Lit Hub, Most Anticipated Books of 2021 "Febos's newest collection of essays addresses misogyny from the inside out. . . With her signature rhythmic style and stream of consciousness propelling the narrative, the author's critique of becoming is as tender as it is relentless. Febos's writing possesses the same heartbreaking elegance and haunting lyricism as that of feminist authors Roxane Gay, Caitlin Moran, and Carmen Maria Machado." --Library Journal "In this book of liberating inquiry and divine depth, Febos again and again connects the constellations of herself and the world she and all women must learn to live in." --Booklist, starred review "Anyone raised as a girl will be able to relate to something in Girlhood, and those who weren't will marvel at this book's eye-opening, transformative perspective." --BookPage "Fusing memoir, cultural commentary, and research, critically-acclaimed writer Febos explores the beauty and discomfort of girlhood (and womanhood) in her newest essay collection. With her signature lyricism and haunting honesty, the essays explore the ways girls inherit, create, interrogate, and rewrite the narratives of their lives." --The Millions