Review of "13 the New 18"

A funny book about raising teenagers.

The perfect gift for parents whose kids are driving them insane. (Kids like reading it too, though the author never meant to write a children’s book.)

Hardcover, published by Crown available Jan. 27
Buy online from Amazon.com or these booksellers or your local indie bookseller (Beth’s faves are Powell’s, Tattered Cover and Community Books in Park Slope).

Beth Harpaz figures there’ll be no Generation Gap when her kids become teenagers. After all, she grew up in the ’60s and ’70s. She’s seen everything! But when her son has a bar mitzvah and turns 13, suddenly her life goes from hosting pizza parties for 12-year-olds to monitoring the MySpace page where he claims he’s 22 (even though his photo shows him standing next to Bugs Bunny at Six Flags). She joins Facebook to spy on him, but he refuses to friend her. (No matter, she finds hundreds of friends of her own and ends up addicted to it.) She remembers being teased about her “highwater” pants as a kid, but she just can’t accept her son’s argument that without $100 sneakers, he might be bullied for having uncool shoes. As she tries to decipher lyrics to rap songs and text messages with mysterious codes like NM JC, she starts wondering if she’s failed as a mother, or if all of this is just a normal part of growing up in the 21st century. When she finds some scary secrets in her son’s room and starts getting calls from school about his behavior, she’s afraid to ask the Perfect Mommies she knows for advice, so she turns to a variety of unconventional sources: the Sopranos, Erma Bombeck, and most of all, Google, her guru and oracle. By the time her son turns 14, he’s grown out of a lot of the things that worried her – and she’s learned a lot about raising teenagers.

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: “Harpaz has an engaging voice, and her outlook on everything from teen fashion to Facebook is fresh and funny.”

FROM “13 Is the New 18″: “I wonder sometimes if there’s something to the old superstition about the number thirteen. Maybe that superstition was originally created by the mothers of some tribe who noticed that in their children’s thirteenth year, they suddenly became possessed by evil spirits.”

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