Review: The Smart Girl’s Guide to Getting What You Want: How to be assertive with wit, style and grace by Mary Hartley

Quick review for a quick read. “The Smart Girl’s Guide to Getting What You Want” is an accessible self-improvement read that focuses its message on how to be a “smart girl” or how to be more assertive and successful as a woman in the working world and in life.

Initially, I wasn’t sure how this book would come across, because the label of being a “smart girl” had the potential to push buttons in its absolute labeling and limited focal points with that label. (There were other such examples through the text where the labeling can be patronizing, to be sure. It sends mixed messages and doesn’t come across as much empowering as it does putting the issues into bubbles and labels that could do more harm than good. ) However, it has some helpful takeaway points on how to be assertive, improve self-esteem, learning when to say no, dealing with difficult people, recognizing how to give compliments, giving and receiving criticism, and pushing one to think positively about situations where they can see their strengths and weaknesses for what they are.

This book feels more focused on the accessibility in its language and pop psychological leanings (what with a multitude of pop culture references through the text) rather than offering more detailed expansions for people who struggle with self-esteem and assertion beyond a base level of understanding. It could certainly be used as a supplement to other texts on self-esteem geared towards women in this vein, but unfortunately doesn’t really stand on its own when offering more in-depth expansions on these issues, which left me feeling like I wanted more from the text than what it gave.

In the end, I was on the fence about it. It had good assertions that I felt could be good takeaways on the subject matter, but in the end – I’ve read more expansive, thorough texts on the material here and that didn’t feel so much like it was trying to stay chic or trendy.

Overall score: 3/5 stars.

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Watkins Publishing.

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