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A "heartening inspiration"(The New York Times), the untold story of the people who have helped spark America’s most transformative social movements throughout history: teenage girls
Nine months before Rosa Parks kicked off the bus boycotts, Claudette Colvin was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She was fifteen. In 1912, women’s rights activists organized a massive march in support of women’s suffrage. Leading them up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan was not one of the mothers of the movement, but a teenage Chinese immigrant named Mabel Ping-Hua Lee. Half a century before the better-known movements for workers’ rights began, over 1,500 girls—some as young as ten—walked out of factories in Lowell, Massachusetts, demanding safer working conditions and higher wages in one of the nation’s first-ever labor strikes.
Young women have been disenfranchised and discounted, but the true retelling of major social movements in America reveals their might: they have ignited almost every single one.
Young and Restless recounts one of the most foundational and underappreciated forces in moments of American revolution: teenage girls. From the American Revolution itself to the Civil Rights Movement to nuclear disarmament protests and the women’s liberation movement, through Black Lives Matter and school strikes for climate, Mattie Kahn uncovers how girls have leveraged their unique strengths, from fandom to intimate friendships, to organize and lay serious political groundwork for movements that often sidelined them. Their stories illuminate how much we owe to girls throughout the generations, what skills young women use to mobilize and find their voices, and, crucially, what we can all stand to learn from them.
About the Author
Mattie Kahn is an award-winning writer and editor. Her work has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Vox, and more. She was the culture director at Glamour, where she covered women’s issues and politics, and a staff editor at Elle. She lives in New York with her husband.
"This riveting and well-researched book invites us to reexamine the history we’ve been taught and to view teenage girls as a powerful force for change."—NPR
"Kahn’s study of the role of girls in American social uprising is timely...a reminder of the enduring optimism of youth."—The New York Times Book Review's "Editors' Choice"
"Heartening inspiration can be found in Young and Restless, Mattie Kahn’s thoroughgoing examination of the role of young women and girls in America’s uprisings." —The New York Times
"A galvanizing survey of the power of teen girls, from young suffragettes and civil rights advocates to Gen Z'ers fighting for bodily autonomy in post-Roe America."—Vanity Fair
“Kahn makes history poignant and page-turning, telling stories you’ll wish you’d heard in high school.”—Glamour's "The 15 Best Nonfiction Books of 2023, So Far"
“Mattie Kahn's Young and Restless feels born of the current moment….a look at why and how girls have been sidelined by history in the past—turned into objects cultural fascination while simultaneously being denied agency and power, especially in the historical record.”—Vogue's "Best Books of 2023 (So Far)"
"History buffs and feminists will relish Young and Restless for its tales of teenage girls who have changed the world...'The process of writing this book has filled me with hope and admiration,' Kahn writes, and it will do the same for any reader."
“Mattie Kahn has written a profoundly important book that belongs on numerous library and bookstore shelves, especially those featuring women’s studies, history, and resistance literature.”—New York Journal of Books
“Fascinating and keenly observed...an engrossing, important book to read—and to give to any young person in your life.”—Town & Country's "The 41 Must-Read Books of Summer 2023"
“Kahn spotlights the activism of teen girls, with a wealth of examples…Girls, as she has ably demonstrated, are capable of lasting, progressive change.”—Booklist
"Young and Restless...[looks] at American history and progress through the lens of teen girls — an often overlooked or dismissed demographic that's had a huge impact on our world, in the civil rights movement, early labor strikes, women's suffrage, and more."—Powell's 2023 Book Preview, Vol. 2
"An interesting, overlooked perspective—and a hopeful one."—Harvard Magazine
“It’s time to write girls back into the historical record, said Garance Franke-Ruta in The New York Times. First-time author Mattie Kahn does just that in her inspiring survey of the girls and young women who have fought for political and social change in America.”—The Week
"Kahn’s sparkling debut profiles young women who have played leading roles in American protest movements...an inspiring and eye-opening look at how progress happens."—Publishers Weekly
"Thoughtful and compassionate"—Kirkus Reviews
"Young and Restless is inspiring without being sentimental, a lively and engaging read that nonetheless challenges and complicates dusty narratives. It’s for anyone who cares about girls and a more just world. You wish this is what you’d learned in history class."
—Irin Carmon, co-author of the New York Times bestselling Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
"In Young and Restless, Mattie Kahn treats girl activists with rigor and curiosity, and is clear-eyed in her examination of how we too often erase their social and political contributions from the historical record, iron over the ways their youthful preoccupations shape their engagement, and fetishize their girlhood in a way that makes their growth into adults more challenging. This is a really smart book."
—Rebecca Traister, New York Times bestselling author of Good and Mad
“Young and Restless honors the ferocious power of teenage girls. In this bracing retelling of the social movements, Mattie Kahn celebrates girls not as saviors, but as leaders and visionaries deserving of our recognition.”
—Billie Jean King, New York Times bestselling author of All In
"In her aptly titled debut book, Young and Restless, Mattie Kahn captures the unique, irrepressible brilliance of girls who have shaped every modern movement for social progress. This book is a vital primer on decades of abolitionists, environmentalists, and other unsung heroines who challenged the powers that be and demanded change. Audacious and often irreverent, the girls of Kahn’s mighty sisterhood will inspire you to action and leave you shouting: 'Long live girl power!'"
—Cecile Richards, New York Times bestselling author of Make Trouble and former President of Planned Parenthood
"Young and Restless is a remarkable debut and a landmark work that has earned its place on the history shelves. With vivid clarity, rigorous research, and trenchant commentary, Mattie Kahn chronicles the potency of female adolescence, exploring with nuance what it means to bear witness to the young women transforming America. Their contributions to American history are invaluable and the nation is forever indebted to them. This book, like the girls whose stories it chronicles, is not to be ignored.
—Aminatou Sow, New York Times bestselling co-author of Big Friendship
"In Young and Restless, Mattie Kahn challenges the dismissive societal attitudes consistently pointed at the concerns and contributions of teenage girls, and proves that we are and always have been, at the heart of revolution. Everybody should read this book and understand that who we are taught to look to for leadership has been upside down for a long long time. Luckily, books like this move us closer to that world with every reader."
—Ashley Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Somebody’s Daughter