Rebel, Rogue, Mischievous Babe: Stories About Being a Powerful Girl


273 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-00-638604-0
DDC 305.235




Susannah D. Ketchum, a former teacher-librarian at the Bishop Strachan
School in Toronto, serves on the Southern Ontario Library Services


Several years ago, Sharlene Azam, a young journalist with The Toronto
Star, began publishing Reluctant Hero, an alternative magazine,
“written by and for teenage girls because they told me that magazines
like Seventeen and Cosmopolitan don’t accurately reflect their

Azam was surprised to learn that being a teenager had become even more
difficult than during her teen years. Accordingly she began to assemble
“Stories About Being a Powerful Girl.” She wanted girls “to know
that it gets easier, and that you are already powerful and amazing, even
if you don’t always know it or feel it.” The result is a collection
of personal essays written by girls aged 10 to 21 on such topics as
image, the body, boys, depression, drugs, drinking, and smoking. Azam
introduces each chapter with a personal reflection, followed by a
“myth,” because she finds that “[myths] keep the truth from us.”
Some of these myths include, “Guys have it easy,” “Father knows
best,” and “Being a teenager is the best time of your life.”
Despite the subtitle, many of the essays reveal girls who feel far from

Not surprisingly, individual submissions vary considerably in quality
of writing and maturity of reflection. And some works include crude
language (teacher-librarians should be aware that some parents will be
offended by certain sections). For example, during a “roundtable”
discussion in the chapter “Sex & Sexuality,” the moderator
trivializes sexual orientation when she asks whether it is “trendy to
be bisexual?” Azam’s contributions are occasionally both ambiguous
and too wordy, but her introductions to “The Family,” “Dating,”
and “Bullying, Violence, & Racism” are superb.

Azam hopes that her book may “serve as a guide for girls, parents, or
really anyone who cares about girls,” and, in many ways, it is
parents, teachers, and other adults who should read it. If some of the
subject material is unwelcome, it is nevertheless important to be aware
of the realities that confront teenagers daily. Recommended with


Azam, Sharlene., “Rebel, Rogue, Mischievous Babe: Stories About Being a Powerful Girl,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 22, 2024,