Let me tell you about working in an all girls school with young ladies who are required to wear short skirts....How does one politely inform a teenage girl that if she must wear her skirt two inches shorter than the dress code requirement, then she should bend at the knees and not at the waist? How do you let young women know that lounging on the sofas in the library is not acceptable, even if there are no men around? Sigh.
Thanks to the an opportunity from book sneeze, I received a copy of 50 Things Every Young Lady Should Know: What to do, What to say, and How to Behave, by Kay West. West does an excellent job of providing concrete etiquette lessons in real life situations explain what to do and what not to do--and most importantly for the teenage reader--a solid explanation of why. I think explaining the why for etiquette is the hardest part for me. I know that a student won't listen to what I say, without explaining why good manners are important, but I find it so hard when the voice inside my head is screaming, "Seriously child, how do you not know this stuff?"
As you can tell from my past articles, I'm a stickler for acceptable etiquette. I was schooled in the south where every "Young Lady" is given a copy of Amy Vanderbilt by her grandmother. I worked as a domestic for a woman who had me measure her dining table settings so that the plate was exactly one inch from the edge--okay maybe this was a little overboard. Still, you would think some things are just common sense, but when dealing with today's young people, it becomes apparent that not everyone had the same motherly and grandmotherly wisdom passed down to them. 50 things covers lessons in deportment, in "Please" and "Thank You" and personal grooming. These skills are important not just because of public civility, but to help prepare these young ladies to succeed in college, in their careers, and in their life beyond my library walls where there won't be a quiet librarian suggesting that they not lean back in their chairs.
Sure 50 Things includes a handful of the stuffy old rules. For example, it has the "only butter the bite you intend to eat next and not the entire roll" rule. As an aside, I've never followed this rule because just about no one actually knows that this is the rule, so no one else follows it and you just look ridiculous. But 50 things is not your Peggy Post or Amy Vanderbilt. It does not give you the comprehensive coverage you will find in those 1,000 page references (both of which I own and have used). Instead you get about 200 pages that are short and to the point. Cologne lasts for a long time, even after you can no longer smell it. A lady doesn't chew gum or eat food while on the phone. In short, just good practical advise that if all young ladies heard would make the world just a little bit nicer to live in.
This book was provided free of charge by BookSneeze in exchange for my fair and honest review. I received no additional compensation. The opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.