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Being a Teen by Jane Fonda: Everything Girls & Boys Should Know About Relationship, Sex, Love, Health, Identity & More (book review and recommendations)

I don't share book recommendations here as often as I used to, but I still eat books like candy. One of my NY resolution was to read more non-fiction and so far that's been working out pretty well. I still read mostly classics, but non-fiction is becoming a regular part of my reading routine. I had read more than a dozen books last January (not bad at all) and this book was one of them. I can only hope that I will manage to read as much this February. 

Today I'm presenting a non fiction book by a famous author. Most of you probably  know who Jane Fonda is, but you might be curious/ or uncertain about her reasons for writing a book like this. Most of us bookworms tend to be a bit on fence when it comes to celebrity books (and for a good reason). However, Jane Fonda has actually been involved in working (volunteering) for better adolescent & teenage mental and physical health for years (she even founded a foundation for it), so she has something to contribute to this topic. Quality volunteer work & activism is certainly reason enough for writing a book. Not only does Fonda's reason for writing this book make sense to me, her voice also sounds authentic enough.  How did I feel about this book? Read my review to find out.

Being a Teen by Jane Fonda (book review and recommendations)

Being a Teen by Jane Fonda (book review and recommendations)

I would say that this book is very well written and informative. As I said, I made a decision to read more non-fiction this year and this book was a pretty good start up. It is not terribly in-depth, but it does cover some important points concerning teenage mental & physical health. I obviously I can't speak about it from a perspective of a teenager (because I'm plus thirty myself), but I read it as someone who might recommend it to a teen sooner or later. Would I recommend it to every teen? Probably not to every single one, but a lot of teens might benefit from it. Being A Teen is somewhat culture specific (perhaps it is also worth mentioning that some countries have better sexual education that others), but I think that for most teens it is not a bad book. All in all, it seems a pretty good and useful resource book.

 I haven't checked it up yet (not sure how I can), but if I understood well, Fonda claims that the work of her foundation decreased the number of teenage pregnancies, so if that is true kudos to her. Naturally, just because someone is famous, doesn't mean that he or she is automatically truly influential in all aspects, but generally speaking, using your popularity to educate people is not such a bad idea. Truth be told, I feel like people tend to see celebrities as more influential than they truly are. While celebrities do have a great marketing power and have repeatedly proved themselves a good investment for product placement, most celebrities aren't taken very seriously. Being famous can be a double-edged sword in that sense.


I approached this book without any negative prejudice, though. Ages ago, I watched one cancer themed interview with Jane Fonda and she struck me as a very educated and eloquent lady. So, I pretty much got from I expected from this book. I agree with Jane Fonda in the sense that talking about sexuality with young ones does not mean that we're promoting promiscuity or early sexual intercourse. Learning about sexuality doesn't have to be connected with promoting unhealthy or unwise life choices. It is important to create a climate in which teens would feel comfortable asking questions that are bothering them. It is quite possible that books like this can help with that.
Education is power. One could even go so far to say, that it is our duty as adults to give an educated answer on this sensitive matter to youth. You may not think you will get these kind of questions (especially if you don't work in education or don't have or don't plan to have kids) but unless you're from Mars, you never know when a younger sibling/relative or random teen might ask you a sensitive question. Growing up isn't easy, and body changes can be quite confusing so it is good to remind ourselves about that.

Being a Teen by Jane Fonda (book review and recommendations)

Being a Teen by Jane Fonda (book review and recommendations)

I personally hate to see puberty being presented as some kind of disease, because obviously it is not only a natural process, but basically a crucial part of growing up. Teenage years, as confusing as they can be, are when we are supposed to really start developing our personality and identity. To say that this time period is important is an understatement. The less scared our youth is, the more educated it becomes, the better it is for everyone. 

The information covered in Being a Teen is pretty standard, there is nothing revolutionary about it. I wouldn't say that it is everything that teen girls and boys should know about relationships, sex, love, health, identity & more (as the title implies), but it is a good place to start. I genuinely think it is a pretty good book and I do like how it also focuses on mental health because that is important as well.

Being a Teen by Jane Fonda (book review and recommendations)

Being a Teen by Jane Fonda (book review and recommendations)

Nevertheless, I do have a few small issues with this book. Personally, I think that the chapter about contraception could have been better written. In addition, saying that abortion is completely safe is a bit of a stretch. I think young woman and woman in particular need to know that there are health risks involved in abortions. Abortions should be seen as a last resort and should not be considered a method of contraception. Not that this book says that (it does stress that a day after pill is a much better solution), but still it seems to fly over this topic a bit too lightly. I just think a bit more should be said about it.

Not because abortions are morally wrong ( I've always been pro choice myself), but because abortions are surgical procedures and they do involve bleeding. Yes, the risks may be called minimal but they exist. I understand that in some cases abortions are needed, justified or recommended, but down playing what they really is intellectually dishonest. A girl needs to know that she needs to get some rest after an abortion, perhaps even adjust her diet to make up for the blood loss. Plus, she should know that she can seek counseling if the needs to. For most women and men, abortion is emotionally difficult so that is something that needs to be taken into consideration.

Being a Teen by Jane Fonda (book review and recommendations)

Similarly, the pill has its health consequences as well. There has to be a way to educate youth about using the pill, without promoting it is a 100% safe. Nothing chemical that you put into your body is 100 % safe. Tiny print matters too. I'm all for educating young ones about contraception, but the education has to be complete. It should involve reading the tiny print as well. Furthermore, as long as this theme is discussed one should repeatedly stress that the pill offers absolutely no protection against sexually transmitted disease. This book does says that but if I remember well, not nearly often enough for my liking.  I would have liked to see it mentioned over and over and over again.

The pill has long been advertised as something that empowers women, but I can't help but feeling that it puts all the contraception pressure & responsibility on one gender and to me it just seems unfair. Furthermore, some claims made in this book don't ring 100% true or complete to me, but still, I believe it is an useful reference book. There is nothing completely inaccurate about the information presented (as far as I remember), it is just that are some things that aren't explained fully. 

Moving on the best part of the book (for me). The advice for victims of abuse or bullying seemed particularly well-written to me. Very much honest and to the point. Advice along the line 'If you are an under-aged person and have suffered any kind of abuse, know that it is not your fault and keep telling as many adults as you can' may seem obvious, but this is something than needs to be repeated. If a person has been bullied or abused, they might be tempted to feel that it is somehow their fault, or that telling might make it worse, so it is important to reassure them. This book basically sends this message to abused teens: 'even if it may seem to you, it is highly unlikely that adults will blame you for it' and that's a pretty good message. We should encourage all victims of violence to seek help. 

Being a Teen by Jane Fonda (book review and recommendations)


This book offers a lot of solid information and advice. I must stress that the chapters covering abuse, bullying and eating disorders are very relevant and up to the point. These chapters acknowledge even the often not mentioned facts like that anorexia often happens to overachievers (it is a complex mental disease and not always connected with wanting to be a model) or that a parent might not in all cases react properly to the abuse claim made by a teenager (that is why telling as many adults as you can is important). Details like this show that a lot of though was put into this book. The above mentioned chapters even include website addresses and contacts for shelters and services that might help. Obviously, this is only applicable for residents of U.S.A but that's the target audience anyway. It is obvious that the author of this book really wanted it to contain relevant and useful information. 

 I would say that there is definitely room for improvement when it comes to Being a Teen, but it is a relevant book, and I for one am happy to have had read it.  The title in particular seems a tad bit too ambitious  to me, in reality this is more a reference book that 'everything you need to know about...' kind of book. That being said, as a reference book, it is very good. It is organized very well. It is easy to find the subject you're interested in and read about it. The book was even designed like that, you don't have to read all of it, you can use it as a reference book. To sum up, Being a teen is an useful book, one that I could recommend to both teens and adults. 


  1. Guarda, personalmente non avrei mai preso in considerazione l'idea di leggere un libro del genere, sia perchè scritto da una celebrità che non è nè un medico nè una scrittrice, sia perchè l'adolescenza l'ho passata da un pezzo quindi l'argomento non mi interessa poi molto.
    Però devo dire che a giudicare dalla tua recensione sembra abbastanza interessante ed informativo (tralasciando la leggerezza con cui vengono trattati temi come l'aborto o la pillola che hanno eccome conseguenze sulla salute, magari non sempre, e non sempre nella stessa misura, ma si tratta comunque di cose che vanno ad interferire pesantemente con il normale funzionamento del corpo), magari ad un teenager potrebbe risultare utile, perchè no? :)

  2. Education is key for real and I heard Wendy Williams say that parents are starting to have 'the talk' with their kids earlier and earlier. Infact she suggested having the talk at age 11! Jane Fonda is amazing! Kudos to you for reading that many books in January! I always plan to read and I just get super exhausted at the end of the day. I've had one book sitting on my bed side collecting dust for almost 2 months shame on me. Have a fabulous weekend Ivana. By the way, I love my illustrations and plan to put all three in one big frame for display. Thank you again.

    1. today kids are exposed to everything (all kinds of info), but still it is hard to decide when to have 'the talk'.

  3. Lovely post dear! Have a great weekend! xx

  4. Dear Ivana, I think your resolution is a very good one and nevertheless your book choice is surprising! I'm pretty sure personally I wouldn't have chosen this book, especially because it is from Jane Fonda. But now I know thanks to you that this lady obviously well-educated and eloquent. It is a pity that the chapters about the contraceptions, abortions and the pill are not really complete and kind of superficial. But at least the chapter about bullying seems to be satisfying! Thanks a lot for your review and enjoy further the weekend, dear Ivana!
    With love from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

  5. Oh hello again Ivana! First of all congrats on this resolution, I used to be a very good reader in the past so for this year I decided to invest more time reading books rather than navigate on Instagram or in other social media, books are definitely the best way to nourish our souls and minds, this month I read 3 and I'm quite happy with the result even tho I used to read more in the past!

    Didn't know that Jane Fonda has a book, she's definitely an icon and I loved her essence on movies like Barbarella (I don't know if you have seen her new show on Netflix). Would love to know more about her story, I'm sure she has a lot to tell :)

    Best from Barcelona, dear!


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