Growing Up Female in America Critical Context - Essay

Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

A prolific writer for juvenile readers as well as for adults, Merriam’s sympathies are clearly with the feminist movement, as is evident in the titles of some of her other books, such as Independent Voices (1968) and Mommies at Work (1973). Her motivation for gathering the material for this book was to end the silencing of female experience. In her introduction to Growing Up Female in America, she argues that equal rights for women will be long in coming and that women younger than herself must participate in the movement. Although Merriam shows sensitivity in portraying ethnic and class diversity, her book may be somewhat erroneous in its title. The North American—rather than the American—woman is her focus.

Merriam’s Growing Up Female in America is a valuable source for students interested in women’s studies. The British tradition of discrimination against women can be followed clearly throughout the settlement of the Colonies. Because so many history textbooks omit or downplay the experiences of women, this collective biography could be an extremely useful accompanying text for students studying North American history. Growing Up Female in America may also spark an interest in creative writing students or in those who are interested in the process of autobiographical writing.