Looking for secrets, tips, and expert advice for girls about growing up? We recently chatted with author Adah Nuchi about her new release Bunk 9's Guide to Growing Up which is now available wherever books are sold!
1. What inspired you to write Bunk 9’s Guide to Growing Up?
The idea for Bunk 9’s Guide to Growing Up came out of a conversation I had with my editor about where we had gotten our information on puberty. We wanted to create a body-positive and puberty-positive book that would help girls navigate puberty and feel good about themselves, and we bonded over what a great influence summer camp had been in our lives. When I sent him a sample chapter for the book, he wrote back and asked if I thought it would be a crazy idea to set it at a summer camp. My immediate reaction was, this is brilliant, let’s do it right now.
2. How much research was needed to complete the book, and what was the most fascinating thing you learned?
There was SO MUCH research! Because Bunk 9 covers both the science of puberty and also things like feelings, nutrition, and hygiene, the research was really varied. So it involved relearning everything there is to know about the reproductive system, making my own deodorant, and grilling my friends about their own experiences in puberty. But overall, it was about a year of researching and writing.
The most fascinating thing I learned actually came from talking to my friends. I was a small boobed late bloomer, and I always assumed everyone else had an easier time than me during puberty. But when I asked my friends about their experiences, I realized that everyone—early bloomers, late bloomers, girls with big boobs and small—had a hard time. I think finding that out informed a lot of my writing. I wanted to create a feeling of camaraderie and sisterhood and encourage girls not only to celebrate the changes they’re going through but also to be empathetic towards their friends who may be having a different experience.
3. What did you choose to write the book from the perspective of nine young women?
When my editor suggested setting Bunk 9 at a summer camp, I knew I wanted to add in a story arc. Showing the point of view of nine women allowed us to give a voice to a number of different experiences, and the book features characters who are excited, indifferent, or nervous about puberty; who are skinny, curvy, have big boobs, little boobs, get their period at age 9 and at age 16; who are sporty, sciency, artsy, and dramatic. My hope is that readers will find one or several characters they can identify with, and whose experiences mirror their own. Plus giving them a story makes it more fun to read, I hope!
4. How is this guide different from a typical adolescence self-help book?
The fiction element makes this puberty guide unique. Much like other puberty guides out there, Bunk 9’s Guide to Growing Up covers everything young girls need to know about their changing bodies, their feelings, and hygiene. But it also follows the adventures of nine girls through the summer they’re twelve, including first periods, embarrassing moments, and emotional rollercoasters. That story will help keep readers engaged so they want to learn the facts. And because it’s written as if it’s by the girls at age sixteen reminiscing about the summer they were twelve, it includes a lot of tips and advice from voices young readers will actually want to hear.
5. For moms, what’s your best advice for navigating puberty with daughters?
OMG. How about “this too shall pass”? When I was twelve (and thirteen, and fourteen) I wouldn’t walk on the same side of the street as my mom because I was embarrassed by everything about her. Now we talk several times a week and even went on a weeklong cross-country trip together. Your relationship with your daughter may feel rocky now, but love her, support her, and trust that it isn’t personal.
I called my mom to see if she had any great advice to add, and she says, “Try to respect that the choices your daughter makes are her own, and aren’t a reflection on you. I had to come to terms with the fact that we are different people and that that is ok. And also yes, moms, you will get through this.”
Looking for more helpful advice for your kids? Check out our recent post about back-to-school anxiety here.
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