Susan Cain adapts her adult best-seller Quiet for a younger audience, sharing thoughts and tips on making the most of an introverted nature.
Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts by Susan Cain. Dial, 2016, 272 pages including index and notes
Reading Level: Young Adult, 12-15
Recommended for: ages 12-18
When the author was nine, she thought it would be great fun to attend summer camp for eight weeks. Her impression of camp came from countless books, but the reality was not what she expected. The eight weeks, with incessant games, activities, and “rowdiness,” taught her that loud was normal and she was not. Middle school intensified that impression, especially in the cafeteria where she seemed to be a tiny island of uncomfortable silence in a sea of chatter. Can anyone relate? Lots of people can, which is why—once she made peace with her true nature and figured out how to use it to her advantage—Susan Cain’s TED talk on the power of introversion attracted millions of views and led to a book. Quiet Power is the junior version of Quiet, which makes a lot of sense: the struggle with shyness begins in elementary school. Her opening chapter explores the phenomenon of introversion with the reassurance that it’s perfectly normal (and incidentally, not always the same as shyness). The remaining chapters present examples of introverts at school, among friends, in hobbies or sports, and at home, offering practical strategies for participating successfully in all these areas.
Like many a self-help book, this one overstates its case and indulges in repetition. Also, though the author affirms more than once that Extroverts are great! her “Manifesto for Introverts” at the very beginning reveals a smidgen of smugness. Such as, “There’s a word for ‘people who are in their heads’ too much: thinkers.” Small objections aside, this is a reassuring, friendly book that reminds introverts they don’t have to withdraw from the world because they need some time alone or can’t make small talk or turn to a quivering lump at the thought of speaking in public. Or even raising a hand in class. Ordinary courtesy and kindness play a role, as the eighth-grade introvert Maya van Wagenen discovered in her best-selling teen memoir, Popular (reviewed here). If your teen sees shyness as a handicap, some of the advice in this book can be a helpful corrective.
Overall rating: 3.75 (out of 5)