In Growing Up Fast Joanna Lipper tells the life stories of Amy, Shayla, Jessica, Colleen, Liz, and Sheri--six teen mothers whom she first met in l999 when they were all enrolled at the Teen Parent Program in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Making a short documentary film was only the beginning of an extraordinary journey that continued for four years as Lipper videotaped and interviewed the girls, their families, and the fathers of their babies. This raw material was the basis for Growing Up Fast, which in the words of Naomi Wolf, "reads like a nineteenth-century novel about young women burdened by fates they did not choose."
Less than a decade older than these teen parents, Joanna Lipper was able to blend into the fabric of their lives. She earned their trust as they shared with her the daily reality of their lives and their experiences growing up in the economically depressed post-industrial landscape of Pittsfield. Often masked by statistics, demonized by the media, and stereotyped by people of all political persuasions, the voices and stories of these teen parents reveal the complex, disturbing, and often painful reality behind a vast array of social issues including welfare reform, low wages, drugs, domestic and dating violence, the prevalence of child abuse, and the role of education.
In the tradition of The Corner and Studs Terkel’s Working, Growing Up Fast is a landmark work of empathy that will speak powerfully to parents, teachers, social workers, policy-makers, doctors, psychologists, policemen, lawyers, and teenagers.