July 30, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

When she was 16, Shandler read Mary Pipher’s Reviving Ophelia, the 1994 examination of plummeting self-esteem among adolescent girls, but she wanted to hear from the ”Ophelias” themselves. So the high school senior (now in college) solicited teenage girls countrywide to write about their lives. Culled from the 830 essays, journal entries, and poems she received, this candid compendium centers on five themes — body image, family, friends, sex, and social pressures — and range from heartbreaking admissions of anorexia to spitfire indictments of the media that glorify perfect-looking women. It’s a testament to Shandler’s excellent editing that these young voices, which could have easily blurred, instead resonate so powerfully. B+

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