Sunday, 28 May 2017

THE TEENAGE GUIDE TO FRIENDS by NICOLA MORGAN. Reviewed by Penny Dolan.




“This book is for anyone who wants to know how friendships work and what to do when they don’t,” says the blurb.
 And who wouldn’t want to know about all that?

Few things are as important as friends and friendship groups to teenager, or as complicated. Beyond one’s own family circle, how does one learn about the art of friendship? I feel that the media isn’t always helpful. Films and tv series show idealised - if not ideal - social groups where, for obvious storytelling reasons, episodes must be full of heightened interactions and continually “dramatic” relationships. Real life is more boring and more complicated.


This book, THE TEENAGE GUIDE TO FRIENDS by Nicola Morgan, is a welcome guide, containing a wide range of clearly explained information as well as plenty of those simple “get to know yourself” quizzes beloved by many readers.

The author, Nicola Morgan, is already well known for self-help books for young people: see other titles below. Conversations with pupils and staff in those many schools must surely have led to this latest publication.  

In THE TEENAGE GUIDE TO FRIENDS, she suggests there are many different types of friends. Rather than focusing on the wish for “one best friend”, she looks at the range of opportunities for friendship existing within one’s social groups and beyond. 

Chapters introduce the importance of empathy, the psychology of personality types, as well as peer pressure, group behaviour and the effect of family position. Nicola Morgan writes about the problems that come from the need for friends including the impact of “negative” friendships to managing friends online. She introduces the differing needs of introverts and extroverts, whether in school or out in the wider world, and talks about the management of stress and anxiety.

Wisely, Nicola Morgan suggest that friendships can change, encouraging the young reader to consider friendship as a range of relationships, not always of the same intensity or serving the same purpose or lasting for ever. 

Over the chapters, she points out that friendship asks for understanding and that sometimes one needs to say sorry, or not to take things too personally or seriously. I also liked how, in one chapter, she promotes the value of just being friendly by acting inclusively towards outsiders within social situations and lunch-breaks: an outward looking view of friendship, not just a focus on "me."


Nicola Morgan’s tone is warm and straightforward; she makes it clear that this is a book of general advice and information, and frequently tells troubled readers to talk to trusted friends or adults. The last section, which supplies plenty of helpful addresses, includes warnings about the dangers of misleading articles, unofficial blogs and web-sites.

Best of all, I felt, was the way that Nicola Morgan tries to give her teenage readers more confidence in managing their social circles and that intention, in particular, makes her book, THE TEENAGE GUIDE TO FRIENDS, a useful and an easy read. I’d say that this title would be a welcome addition to secondary schools self-help collections, in the library or wherever such books can be quietly and easily reached by those who need them.

Penny Dolan.

Ps. Just to avoid misunderstandings, Nicola Morgan does visit schools frequently and is an established writer of fiction and non-fiction books. 
She is not Nicky Morgan, the past Secretary of State for Education.



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