How to Be a Girl in the World (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

"This middle grade novel is a crucial look at the realities of being a pre-teen girl in today's world.  Lydia is a relatable character for anyone who has felt uncomfortable with or questioned a young girl's role as the object of male attention, and the story challenges both the older generations and the younger to ask--where do you draw the line on inappropriate displays of affection?  How harmless can they really be when so many people can relate to Lydia's experience?  And knowing what we know now, how long can we justify a "boys will be boys" mentality?"--Reviewed by Beth


From the critically acclaimed author of the ALA Notable and Charlotte Huck Honor Book Forever, or a Long, Long Time comes a poignant coming-of-age novel about the complicated parts of growing up, finding your voice, and claiming your space. Perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead, Laurel Snyder, or Ali Benjamin!

Lydia hasn’t felt comfortable in her own skin since the boys at her school started commenting on the way she looks in her uniform. Her cousin and friends think she should be flattered, but the boys—and sometimes her mom’s boyfriend, Jeremy—make Lydia uncomfortable and confused. Even more confusing is when Jeremy hovers too close and hugs a little too long.

Then her mom surprises her by buying a dilapidated house in their neighborhood. Lydia hopes to find a little bit of magic in their new home. But just like the adults in her life, and God, and her friends, the magic Lydia deeply believes in eventually loses its power to keep her safe.

And as seventh grade begins, Lydia wonders: Is there a secret to figuring out how to be a girl in the world?

About the Author

Caela Carter is a writer and an educator. She is a graduate of the New School’s MFA program in writing for children. She has written three books for middle grade readers: One Speck of TruthMy Life with the Liars, and Forever, or a Long, Long Time, which received three starred reviews, among other accolades. Caela lives in Brooklyn with her family. You can visit her online at

Praise For…

"An unflinching, unputdownable story. Heartbreaking and ultimately empowering, this book should be read by every kid as well as the adults who care about them.”  — Anne Ursu, author of Breadcrumbs and The Real Boy 

“Timely, brave, and bold. A necessary book for readers of all ages. Impossible to put down and impossible to stop thinking about, this book is more  than special—it is vital. Readers will feel seen and heard—the truest gift a book can give us.”  — Corey Ann Haydu, author of Eventown and The Someday Suitcase

"Carter crafts a powerful novel about sexual harassment and the adults who often diminish or ignore it. Carter does a good job in addressing the topics of sexual assault and consent. This novel leaves readers with an important message about sexual harassment. An excellent addition to middle grade collections." — School Library Journal (starred review)

"This ambitious novel covers significant, rarely explored ground. This is sure to ignite mother-daughter book club debates." — Kirkus Reviews

“The uneasiness Lydia feels with unwanted male attention and peers who suggest that she should covet it sends a powerful message about the male gaze and the importance of individual consent.”  — Publishers Weekly

“Carter has crafted a realistic coming-of-age story of empowerment, and Lydia’s experiences teach readers that it’s important to speak up—even about loved ones—and ask for help.” — Booklist

Product Details
ISBN: 9780062672704
ISBN-10: 0062672703
Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Publication Date: August 11th, 2020
Pages: 304
Language: English