Saturday, March 1, 2014

Masterminds and Wingmen -- Rosalind Wiseman ----------------------------- 2.5 Stars

Masterminds and Wingmen seemed a book worth reading when I heard about.  It's written by the same author who wrote Queen Bees and Wannabes, which went on to be the basis for the movie Mean Girls, and was supposed to be one of the best books to really describe and help to have people understand girls.  Masterminds and Wingmen, is supposed to be the same version for boys.  Seeing as I have a 3 year old son and work with many boys in school, I thought it would be a very relevant book in my life.  Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations.

The book is okay.  It starts off very interesting and I was quite engaged at the beginning but as it went on, it became harder and harder to stick with it.  In fact, the last chapter (the longest?) about girls and dating, I was on total skim mode.  In general, the premise of it is pretty good: she talked with a whole bunch of adolescent boys, they shared their 'secrets' and then she organized and explained what to make of those for the average reader to better understand.  So, on a positive, it did provide me some interesting glimpses into the way boys think and act.  It did make me question some of my assumptions about boys and it definitely made me think back to when I was a kid and a few indiscretions I had.  The book certainly had moments of really good points when she talked about strategies that she thinks work well with boys in various situations.  But those useful strategies were few and far between.

Sadly, the book had far more negatives going for it.  First, its a long read and I struggled with her writing style.  Besides writing in a incredibly familiar tone (I'm pretty sure she's not actually my friend), she comes off as very pretentious and as if she's an expert.  As it's a type of 'self-help' book, I get that, but rarely did she ever doubt what she was saying nor do I really understand her qualifications.  Second, this book  is really for a very specific group in society.  Middle-upper class white people; further, probably just mothers.  Almost all the problems she discusses are based on this group of society and it was constantly annoying how she explained clearly what a mother should do but rarely mentioned a father.  Third, I was hoping this book would actually provide me a lot of new ideas.  It did not, perhaps because I am in education, I knew many of what she suggested, but I found much of this elementary.  Perhaps there are parents out there that could really get a lot of it?  Finally, the best part of her book, the quotes from students, were often just segways and setups for the next section or point in her book.  I really wish she would have spent more time with what they said and had more explanation.

So, perhaps this book is good for you.  If you loved her last book, are a clueless person with kids, or really feel you don't understand boys that well, than this would be a worthwhile read.  For me, I'll pass on any future books by her for a while... now if a movie comes out, I guess I could give  a couple hours to that :)

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