Allison's Book Bag

What’s Wrong With Me? by Daree Allen

Posted on: February 4, 2012

“What’s wrong with me?” Have you ever asked yourself that question? Chances are that at least some point you have. Author Daree Allen not only asked herself that question during her teen years, but she also filled many journals with her experiences. Recently, she reread the entries as part of her research for a book she wished to write to encourage girls to have self-esteem and to make a positive impact. The result is part self-help book and part mentoring book about the lessons Allen has learned. Despite some flaws, What’s Wrong With Me? is an inspirational and practical guide.

The strength of What’s Wrong With Me? lies in Allen’s personal approach. Almost every adolescent girl knows what it’s like to be teased for her appearance, whether it’s her hair or clothes or weight. So does Allen, especially because most of her clothes were made by her mother. Some friends were in awe; others teasingly asked if her mother made her underwear too. Most girls also know what it’s like to fight the bulge. So does Allen. She talks about how she used to hate exercise because it made her sweat: “I guess I didn’t mind being fat as long as I had pretty hair.” I could list several more examples, but these should suffice to show you that Allen knows how to relate to girls.

Allen then moves on to write about relationships, status, and other issues. For example, few of us feel that our families are perfect. As much as she loved her parents and siblings, Allen also recognizes how their failings impacted her. Being the middle child, she regularly felt caught in the middle. To this day, she alternates between staying to herself and acting as a peacemaker for the rest of her family. Part three, which is about status, was a difficult one for Allen to write. Here is where Allen shares her dating mistakes, her biggest of which was staying so long with Mike. Eight years older than her, he was separated but not divorced when Allen met him. Allen paid for his divorce so he could marry her, but the relationship did not last. About the experience, Allen writes, “I didn’t wait for God’s approval. I didn’t want to let go of the mate I wanted or to allow room for God to bring the me the kind of mate I needed.” Girls will appreciate Allen’s honesty and humanity.

Ironically, the weakness of What’s Wrong with Me? also lies with Allen’s personal approach. I commend her for limiting her coverage to topics she has personally experienced. However, I knock her for how often she relies solely on those personal experiences when giving advice, a presumptuous and sometimes dangerous practice for anyone. For example, when talking about weight, Allen criticizes traditional charts AND the body mass index. Apparently, because she feels good at 150 pounds but these measures tell her that she’s overweight, then the measures are wrong. They might be, but Allen needs a better reason. Still on the issue of weight, she offers the important advice that girls shouldn’t focus on celebrities when thinking about their appearance. Unfortunately, then she claims that girls shouldn’t look at models because the average American woman wears a size 14. Celebrities might be too thin, but America is also an overweight nation, and so neither provide girls with the right image. Then there is her approach to relationships. While I agree that girls should not rush into marriage, Allen seems to promote being single over ever getting married. Positive stories of married couples would have provided a more balanced perspective. These are just a few examples of where depending more on statistical data and/or compiled histories might have helped.

Aside from Allen’s personal approach, my reaction to other features are mixed. Allen writes that readers won’t find help in her book for abortion, rape, or molestation, death of a family member or friend, or blended families. I’m not sure why she needed that list. No one guide can cover everything. To her credit, however, Allen does provide a list of resources for getting help with some pretty big issues that she didn’t cover. For example, she includes hotline numbers for eating disorders, depression, and suicide. Almost every chapter also includes suggested reading, even covering topics with which she has less expertise. Having struggled with pre-marital sex, Allen is able to write passionately about what’s wrong with it and the benefits of abstinence. But because she can’t write from the perspective of someone who actually practiced abstinence, she instead recommends authors who can. As you can see, I appreciate how much Allen tried to cover. I also like most of her tip charts and reading lists. My favorite chart is the one about how to know what type of clothes to wear. Ironically, despite encouraging girls not to choose celebrities for their role models, many of her book suggestions are written by those in the entertainment industry.

Allen wrote What’s Wrong with Me? out of a desire to be a role model to girls. While I suspect that many of them will (as she did) turn to their peers instead of adults, I applaud her attempt. Girls need all the help they can get making the transition to adulthood.

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

2 Responses to "What’s Wrong With Me? by Daree Allen"

This sounds like the perfect book to guide young girls who feel lonely and lost when faced when faced with the many challenges adolescence presence. It also seems to me that relying too much on personal experience can lead to the wrong ideas being formed, but I suppose the author will learn and develop her writing from informative reviews such as yours. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!:)

What’s Wrong with Me? would make a good book for a mom and daughter to share or a youth group. They could be lots of discussions of her opinions, sharing of other experiences, and even researching into her statistics.

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