Gordon, Emily V. Super You: Releasing Your Inner Superhero. 2015.

I figured a while back I needed to work on myself. I’m not perfect. I know I’m not! No one is! But recently I’ve decided that it’s okay, that I’m a work in progress (it sounds a lot nicer than a hot mess, which up until now is what I’ve referred to myself as). And what would a budding librarian use to improve herself? A book, of course! I chose this book in particular because of all the comic book references, which was sure to put me at ease.

The book is laid out beautifully. The table of contents at the front is good, but then the chapters themselves are broken down into digestible chunks. You start out by identifying the kind of person you want to be. You learn to recognize and highlight your best qualities, and own up to them! It’s okay to be good at stuff and you should be proud! You recognize your weaknesses and learn to accept and work with them. We are all flawed, and it’s important to recognize and accept your flaws if you’re to get better at loving yourself. Sprinkled throughout are tables, freewriting exercises, questions, and speech bubbles with fun comic facts related to what the chapter is talking about.

Gordon writes with empathy and in a conversational tone. You feel like you’re taking this journey with a good friend and mentor. She never makes you feel ashamed for picking her book up and wanting to work on yourself. For teens and young adults, the demographic this book was written for, this is HUGELY important. It was really important to me, and I was immediately comfortable opening the book and beginning to read. All the comic book references made me feel at home, too!

After finishing it, I feel like I am better equipped to handle my emotions and flaws. I didn’t believe her at the beginning when she says keeping a notebook dedicated to this book would be handy, but it really did help! I can look back on this journal now and see where my journey went.

The thing that resonated most with me and made me keep going was the very beginning of chapter one, the identity chapter. She outlines the different identities, or personas, she has kept her whole life. She goes on to explain that each of these personas was really her, but parts of her personality were toned up or down at the time in order to fit her needs at the time:

Every choice you make is a reflection of you doing your best with what you have in front of you. For example, my Punk Rock Stepford Wife was a hard, walls-up kind of girl, but at that point in my life, I couldn’t handle being vulnerable to other people That persona protected me until I felt ready to exist without those walls (14).

That sentence hit me like a ton of bricks. I was then able to identify EXACTLY where my comparable walls-up persona was in my life, why I needed her at the time, and why she was back in my life now, which was exactly why I picked this book up. It was my wake up call.

Emily V. Gordon has written an excellent book. She gives you the tools you need to better yourself without making you feel ashamed for reading a self-help book. She writes with empathy and eloquence and incorporates nerd culture into her book to help teens and young adults feel more at home, and make them feel that they can become a superhero – the very best version of themselves possible. I personally am deeply grateful to her for having written it, and I’m sure many others are, too. Highly recommended.

– Kathleen