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Blueprints for Building Better Girls

Blueprints for Building Better Girls

Fiction

  • reading group guide
Blueprints for Building Better Girls delves into the lives of an eclectic cast of archetypal female characters—from the high school slut to the good girl, the struggling artist to the college party girl, the wife who yearns for a child to the reluctant mother—mapping America’s shifting cultural landscape from the late 1970s to the present day. Its interconnected stories explore the commonly shared but rarely spoken of experiences that build girls into women and women into wives and mothers. In revealing all their vulnerabilities and twisting our preconceived notions of who they are, Elissa Schappell alters how we think about the nature of female identity and how it evolves.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743276719 | 
  • July 2012
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Video

Elissa Schappell on her Modern Day "Etiquette" book

A provocative, keenly observed, and wickedly smart work of fiction that maps America's shifting cultural landscape from the late 1970s to the present day.

Read an Excerpt

Blueprints for Building Better Girls Out of the Blue and into the Black
I woke up in my own bed. Alone. Fully dressed, including underwear. Thank you very much. Lucky me because the ballet flats and pink polo shirt weren’t mine, only the jean mini. I like to call it my Houdini skirt because it makes your butt disappear and you can slip out of it even in handcuffs. That’s a joke.

I was feeling pretty good about myself. What a good girl I am, I thought, tucking my comforter up under my chin. You know, who cares... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Blueprints for Building Better Girls includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Introduction

In eight darkly funny linked stories, Elissa Schappell delves into the lives of an eclectic cast of archetypal female characters—from the high school slut to the good girl; the struggling artist to the college party girl; the wife who yearns for a child to the reluctant mother. Their struggles illuminate the common, but rarely discussed experiences, that build girls into women and women into wives and mothers.

In “Monsters of the Deep,” teenage Heather craves intimacy despite her bad reputation at school; years later in “I’m Only Going to Tell You This Once,” she must reconcile her memories of youthful misadventure with her current role as the mother of a teenager who is falling in love for the first time. In “The Joy of Cooking,” a harried mother continues to nurture her adult daughter, Emily, a recovering anorexic; in “Elephant,” we find Emily’s sister, Paige, confiding her ambivalence about motherhood to her new best friend, Charlotte. In “Are You Comfortable?&# see more

Articles About This Book

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Posted on Off the Shelf

Posted by Brianne Sperber

I first read Blueprints for Building Better Girls a year after I graduated college—a year I’d spent somehow navigating how to become an adult. After hearing Elissa Schappell and Molly Ringwald discuss Ringwald’s own novel-in-stories, When It...

About the Author

Elissa Schappell
Emily Tobey

Elissa Schappell

Elissa Schappell is the author of Blueprints for Building Better Girls and Use Me. She is a contributing editor and the Hot Type book columnist at Vanity Fair, a former senior editor of The Paris Review, and co-founder and now editor-at-large of Tin House magazine. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

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