By Dan Siegel
The notoriously tumultuous and mysterious lives of teenagers are illuminated in this study of the teenage brain. The title is slightly misleading, as what Siegel (Mindsight) offers is less a manual than a guide for dealing with relationships. Nevertheless, he attempts to shatter, or at least challenge, popular misconceptions: to be a teenager is not to be irrationally explosive, immature, or to crave wild independence. However, it might mean having an increased dopamine reward drive and extra activity in the lower, more emotional parts of the brain. Hormones and sexuality receive mention here but are not, as in other work on the subject, isolated as the sole cause of all teenage behavior. A physician and father himself, Siegel balances his brain discussions with anecdotes from his family and practice. Humorous illustrations throughout the book lighten the mood. For more practical guidance, Siegel intersperses his discussion with "Mindsight" tools and other strategy-oriented sections, which can be used to guide teenagers toward healthier, more involved relationships. And since as adults we are merely grown-up teens, Seigel's insights often apply to us, too. By the end of this book, the teenager has been transformed from a monstrous force into a thinking, feeling, and entirely approachable human being.