In the poem “The Jealous Girl,” from Worldly Pleasures, Allison Joseph continues her meditation on the difficulties of life as an adolescent girl. Although the narrator and title character were once friends, the girl grew to fear and hate “…the miniature breasts / poking through the thin / fabric of my tops, / the slight roundness / my hips had gained.” The narrator cannot control these changes to her body and is thus helpless in regards to her friend’s envy. She desperately wants the girl “to lean close to me again / … / She had information / I didn’t want to do without.”
The poem is both humorous and sadly genuine as many women readers can either relate to the narrator’s isolation as an “early bloomer” or the jealous girl’s envy at her friend’s entrance into womanhood, or at least her possession of a womanly figure. Joseph is thus able to create a poem which inspires empathy for both characters and highlights the understanding which readers achieve with age but who also never forget those trying teenage years.
[By Emily Phillips]
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