This spring I read through my friend Emily’s book with a group of friends. Though I’d known these three women for several years, the Sunday nights we spent discussing Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life by Emily P. Freeman taught me so much about my friends. They shared stories I hadn’t heard before, and I did the same – because the book also taught me so much about myself.

More than once, as we answered the study question and shared our struggles and our lives, a new realization about why I am the way I am – and how different it is from what God wants for me – hit me between the eyes. I’ve written about wearing masks before, and I still struggle with feeling safe enough to be authentic instead of whatever I think you want to see. Grace for the Good Girl helped me work through some of those issues, but when we finished it, I knew my work and growing weren’t finished.

So when I was asked to review Emily’s book on the same topic for young women, I jumped at the chance.

Graceful (for Young Women): Letting Go of Your Try-Hard Life is written for girls of every kind. Chapters are written for the girl next door, the intellectual, the dreamer, the bystander and more. Because girls of all types – and ages – fight with expectations, the fear of not living up and the masks we wear to cover it all up.

Here’s a little more about Graceful:

As girls grow up, they are told to be nice, make good grades, don’t complain, serve the poor, find the right answer and above all be a good girl. But what happens when a girl’s identity is overshadowed by the idea of being “good” rather than being loved by God? The girl next door who hides behind her image, the activist who hides behind her causes, the bystander who hides behind her comfort zone – each of these girls needs to hear that she doesn’t have to try harder.

Freeman’s message to young woman: “You are not merely a rule-following, reputation-making, image-maintaining, responsible, intellectual good girl You are not just a girl who needs to try harder, do better, be more, look good, be perfect. You are not the boring one, the responsible one, the counselor, the peacemaker, the background friend, or the problem solver. These hiding places may have been helping you cope, but they are not who you are.”

“Life isn’t about trying hard to be good,” Freeman tells her readers. “It’s about trusting God to be graceful – to be specially marked by divine grace.” Through an honest look at the roles girls play, she helps them learn to stop trying and start trusting that the Jesus who came to save them also comes to live with them.

Do you know a teen girl who could benefit from letting go of her try-hard life? If you know a teen girl, then you probably do.

(Maybe she’s not even a teen. Or maybe she is you. I won’t judge if you want to read this one for yourself. After all, I’ve made it no secret that I adore many young adult books – and this one is no exception. As a matter of fact, after seeing the chapter titled, “The Intellectual: Hiding Behind Her Report Card,” it took me a full minute to remember that, Oh yeah, I haven’t gotten a report card in more than a decade. The point is, even though I’m no longer “a young woman,” this book totally spoke to me.)

No matter who you think should read Graceful, I’ve got exciting news! I’m giving away one copy of Graceful (for young women) by Emily P. Freeman.

To enter, leave a comment and tell me something about your high school years. Good, bad, stressful or joyful – just tell me something about who you were (or still are!) as a young woman.

The giveaway will close at midnight (CST) on September 16. Affiliate links are used in this post.

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