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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

Twelve by Lauren Myracle has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the third book in the “Winnie Years” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Winnie has just turned 12. She celebrates her birthday with her family, new best friend, Dinah, and sister’s boyfriend, Bo, at Benihana’s. Winnie lives with her parents, younger brother, Ty, and 15-year-old sister, Sandra.

Mom won’t let up about Winnie’s developing body, insisting they need to go shopping for bras right away. Some of the popular, obnoxious girls in Winnie’s grade have already been flaunting their bras. The last thing Winnie wants is to be like them.

Winnie narrates an account that takes her through the next year of her life. She describes the difficulties of various friendships with other girls. An old friend Amanda hangs out with her only because Amanda’s new best friend is out of town.

Winnie’s new friend, Cinnamon, tricks Winnie into gossiping about their friend Dinah, while Dinah is on another line. Girls vie for the attention of the popular girls, and cliques begin to form. Winnie learns to ask forgiveness and work through difficult problems with her friends.

Much to Winnie’s dismay, Mom takes her bra shopping. Winnie spends a lot of time pondering breasts. She doesn’t feel ready for them, as she doesn’t feel ready for many things that come with puberty. Winnie gets her period, and her mom and sister talk to her about pads and tampons. At her sister’s urging, she tries a tampon for the first time when she’s attending a pool party. It falls out while she’s in the pool, and she worries someone will find it and trace it back to her.

Winnie likes a boy named Lars. He likes her, too. Winnie reads a number of Judy Blume books that inform her on topics like erections, affairs and voyeurism. In the end, Cinnamon, Dinah and Winnie restore their friendships, and Winnie holds hands with Lars for the first time.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Winnie’s mom is a worrier, and she is concerned about all of the things that may happen once Winnie’s sister starts driving. She speaks openly with Winnie about bras, breasts, periods and other aspects of her changing body. Winnie’s dad is often present, but not much is revealed about him.


The Lord’s name is used in vain a number of times. Heck, sucks, h---, crap and butt also appear.


When Winnie’s teen camp counselor removes her shirt to skinny dip with the other girls, Winnie sees a bruise above her nipple that looks like a bite mark. Winnie reads several Judy Blume books about affairs, breasts, periods and a boy who gets erections by watching through a window as his neighbor undresses.

Winnie asks Mom if she ever thought about having an affair. Mom says she’s thought about it, in the abstract. She adds that marriage is hard work, and you have to choose to remain committed. Sandra says when Winnie is older, she can read one of Judy Blume’s books about two kids having sex for the first time.

A few girls wear bikinis, tight shirts or midrift-revealing Halloween costumes to flaunt their developing bodies. Winnie’s mom talks freely about Winnie’s need for bras. She even does this in front of the rest of her family, including Winnie’s dad and brother.

Winnie ponders her growing breasts and body. When Winnie gets her period, she goes into specific detail about how to apply pads and tampons, how they feel, what they look like, etc. The first time she tries a tampon, she wears it in a swimming pool and it slips out.

Winnie’s little brother wants to see her new bras and asks if he can try one on. She agrees to let him. Terms like boobs, breasts, hard-on, erection, douche and jockstrap are used.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Lying: Winnie sometimes lies to her parents about where she’s going to be.

If you are looking for an additional resource on his topic, consider using The Focus on the Family Guide to Talking With Your Kids About Sex.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

10 and up


Lauren Myracle






Record Label



Dutton Children’s Books, a division of the Penguin Young Readers Group, published by the Penguin Group


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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