Book review: Alec Greven – How to Talk to Girls
My wonderful Mother, knowing what I do for a living, recently decided to surprise me by buying me a book that has been getting a lot of media attention lately: How to Talk to Girls by Alec Greven. The talking point being that this so called “Dating Guru” is a nine year old boy from America…
Thoughts prior to reading:
You would immediately think that it is obvious to take this boy’s advice with a large pinch of salt and that it is more intended to be a comical story from a cute kid rather than a literary masterpiece. Upon reading the blurb on the back cover, it implies that this book is actually intended to contain guided advice though; “from eight to eighty… read this book and then you’re ready.”
Although still sceptical, I opened the first page with a renewed optimism that it could contain some pearls of wisdom… It is a published book after all!
The advice it gives:
This is a very short book and so ten minutes later I was finished. I was pleased to see that it clearly hasn’t been edited too harshly and the childlike style is evident in the way it is written. Coupled with some amusing illustrations, it was actually a very enjoyable read. It is only when you take a second thought at the actual content that the more harmful side effects of the book’s advice emerge.
One of the primary points he makes at the beginning of the book is, “life is hard, move on!” Whilst this appears to be good advice for people of all ages, it is not so simple to apply. This goes for most of the good points that he makes: they are audaciously vague in their conveyance. Points such as “Don’t act desperate” seem useful but the book lacks any practical application, even for someone who probably hasn’t experienced what he is preaching.
It is some of his more glaring points that disappoint me though, as they are an exact replica of modern society’s damaging portrayal of males versus females. The first of which is when young Alec Greven states, “You must accept that women have all the power”.
Although the bulk of society is governing for an equal standing between the sexes, references like this just go to show that kids are still being taught sexist and mildly misogynistic morals.
Another noxious viewpoint is when Alec Greven writes about not bothering with “pretty girls”, once again with very stereotypical references: “It is easy to spot pretty girls because they have the big earrings, fancy dresses and all the jewellery.”
He continues, “The best choice is a regular girl… Pretty girls are cold-hearted when it comes to boys.”
Although this is all very cutesy coming from a nine-year-old boy, it’s not a very healthy mindset to have towards women, even more so at such a young age. The main reason why so called pretty girls often end up with more insecurities and more attitude towards men in later life is because they are judged so chiefly on their looks whilst growing up and treated differently as a consequence.
The last piece of damaging advice that Alec Greven gives is, “if the girl is wild, then just act like her.”
I know once again I shouldn’t take his advice so literally, but to promote such a lack of authenticity at such a young age is surely pernicious towards a boy’s development.
Exploitation of children:
Content aside, another thing that doesn’t particularly sit well with me is the clear exploitation of a young boy who apparently wrote the book as an unrelated school project, before the media got hold of it and gave it explosive exposure.
I recently wrote an article for a parenting brochure about teaching kids the importance of being rewarded for the value they can offer, and this goes against a lot of those principals.
Whilst Alec Greven has no doubt made a fine profit from his book (assuming he is allowed access to it), he is being encouraged and praised for offering unqualified and potentially harmful advice.
To conclude this review, How to Talk to Girls by Alec Greven, although extremely short in length for its cover price, makes a fun novelty gift for someone who doesn’t take things too seriously. As far as buying this as a genuine resource for a child – which it seems a fair number of parents have done – I would recommend teaching them relationship morals and values yourself. 🙂
i haven’t heard of this one yet… it must be another one of those british-peeps-are-obsessed-with-americans fads. 😉
Really! I thought he was BIG news over there… He’s been on the Ellen show… I thought that was your favourite show!! 🙂
I also just read that apparently they’re in talks for making a movie about his story (I’m not sure quite what story that is)… I assume they’ll get someone like Brad Pitt to play him and it’ll be great! 🙂
PS: We can’t help being obsessed with Americans… You’re just so darn interesting! 🙂
it’s ok. i’m in love with the british lady on my gps.
and ellen is on top of things… i can’t believe i missed it. but geez louise, i work in a bookstore. maybe i just blocked that book out 🙂
Awesome… Does she say “pip pip” when you’re going too slow and “tally ho” when you reach your destination? 🙂
Ah I need to have a temporary ban from bookstores… Not because you work there but because I keep purchasing new books before I’ve read all the ones already in a massive queue… and a little bit because you work there :-p
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Thanks for your kind words; I’m glad you enjoy the site. 🙂
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I agree with much of what you have to say in your review of this book. This kid has already bought into all the typical stereotypes.. he judges based on how girls dress, he encourages inappropriate behaviour while assuming the girl will be the wild one and then, as you mentioned, has that woe is me, poor white boy thing… Gee!!!
but, really anyone who thinks that an 8 year old has credible dating advice deserves whatever they get…
Thanks for your comment; you’ve hit every nail on the head! 🙂
The reviews on Amazon unfortunately do not agree with us as many people are giving it glowing reviews and stating it contains “excellent advice”. Society has a long way to come before involuntary conditioning can be rid of completely it seems!
Hey Sam,great review-I think,like most people have said,that it’s a shame kids pick up on such stereotypical views from such a young age,also…Who thought of creating an 8year old’s project into a published book?! It’s either genius or stupid but I’m not sure which! Great review though,take care!x
Hi Leanne, hope you’re well!
I know, it is a crazy world we live in isn’t it! As I wrote this review quite a while ago now, I thought I would check up on what Alec Greven is up to at the moment… It seems he has just released two more books titled ‘How to talk to Moms’ and ‘How to talk to Dads’!! Apparently they are also top sellers!
Who knows… maybe this kid really is the perfect child who gets the best out of both his parents and has a smashing love-life! I am actually fascinated to see how he turns out in adulthood though and if he’s still writing books etc.
Thanks for reading, 🙂
I COMPLETLEY agree with your review. I didn’t really even find it cute. This kid is pretty much teaching other kids to stay away from girls with earrings and good looks. Thats one of the most steryotypical things Ive ever heard!
You’re right that there are gross forms of stereotyping. These are the sort of views that can severely warp how one views and interacts with society around us.
Thanks for commenting and I’m glad we’re on the same wavelength. 🙂