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Math Doesn’t Suck – And Neither Does Beauty Science

Posted Mar 20 2011 2:01am

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In response to a Tweet from earlier this week, here’s a repost of the review that “Teen Brain” wrote on Danica McKellar’s book “Math Doesn’t Suck.”

As faithful lovers of the Beauty Brains know, we’re not just about busting beauty myths. We also try to show how important science and math are to our daily lives. We really believe that’s important for women in general to know and it’s super-important for young women. Science and math shouldn’t be looked at as “scarey” subjects.

So when I stumbled across Danica McKellar’s book “Math Doesn’t Suck” I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to promote math to our younger readers. Since I can’t technically be considered a teen ager anymore (*sigh*), I asked my geeky, but lovable, 13 year old niece to write the review. So here it is, our first ever book review by Teen Brain:

The first thing that came out of my mouth when I was asked to read Math Doesn’t Suck was, “But I love math!”

And I do. I did, I still do, and I think I always will. I’m a logic fanatic. I love numbers. I love how math always has an answer, it always makes sense, I always get it. But I also know that tons of other girls, my age and every age, hate it. Looking at numbers makes them feel sick, math tests keep them up at night. They’re not self-confident, and they suffer every time math class rolls around.

Danica McKellar, author of Math Doesn’t Suck and renowned actress and mathematician, is out to prove that girls don’t have to feel like that. Her book is extremely sympathetic, easy to understand, and well-written. The magazine-like format and quizzes inside make reading the book exciting-once you plow through a chapter, you find that you can read your math horoscope or take a quiz as a reward!

McKellar is like your encouraging best friend, sitting next to you and saying, “You can do this!” as you complete your homework. She has practice problems whenever she covers new material, and she puts things in an easy-to-understand format. She writes things about boys, lipstick, clothes shopping, pizza-everything! It’s easier to get when you read it that way. And she has tons of real-life stories, both from herself and other women. Quotes from girls of every age between twelve and twenty are scattered throughout the book as yet more encouragement. And one thing I love about the book: It’s not just about math. It goes beyond that-it studies self-confidence.

Many of the success stories tell of a struggling math student who had no faith in herself. And then something changed her mind-a better teacher, a good class, change in behavior, etc.-and suddenly she believed in herself. Who knew that math and self-help were so related?
The book is excellent. It explains everything in detail, and there wasn’t one bit of it that was hard to understand or unclear.

That said, I did have a few problems. For one, I felt that the book covered things I’d already learned. Mind, I’m studying 9th grade math right now, and the book is targeted for middle-schoolers. But I feel like McKellar could have included challenge problems or acted as though there were some more advanced readers. I understand that the book is directly for girls really struggling, but I think she could have engaged a wider range of readers.

Secondly, I think she could have made it more interesting. Math is hard to make very exciting, but at times I was just so bored. She could have made the book more humorous, or maybe made it story-like. For example, she could have introduced a character at the beginning and had her struggling through math, and also life itself. If it had more of a plot, it might have been more fun to read.

Also, I felt a bit patronized. McKellar sometimes acted like she was the teenager right along with you, but sometimes she was The Grown-Up. Preachy, adult, looking down on you. She never made me feel dumb, of course, just young. I loved when she acted as though she was my own age. Everything felt so much more personal!

Math Doesn’t Suck: Surviving Middle School without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail was, in all, a great book. Definitely worth reading, and very helpful. I’d give it four out of five stars, and I’m glad I was convinced to read it!

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