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Survival tips for girls - from a real Survivor

Published May 8, 2006

After placing in the top 10 on Survivor: The Australian Outback, winning Survivor All-Stars and marrying fellow contestant Rob Mariano on a two-hour CBS special, Amber Brkich Mariano, 27, decided it was time to do something a little different.

"I received thousands of letters after Survivor and around 70 percent were from young girls and their parents saying 'Thanks for being such a great example and a role model,' " Mariano said. "I thought it would be nice to give something back."

For her luxury item on Survivor, Amber brought a journal and a pen. So it is only natural that her next step would be writing a book.

Amber's Guide for Girls, which was released earlier this year, is a brief advice book for girls ages 8 to 13. The book discusses subjects like school, relationships, family, hobbies, goals and even a little fashion.

"I'm pretty much like every girl out there. That's why this book is important," she said. "I want girls to know they are not the only ones going through this."

The book emphasizes how she experienced the same issues when she was a teen. "I've had boys break my heart, I've had pimples,'' she said. "I've had everything girls go through at those ages.''

In about 90 pages, Mariano captures every topic typical preteen girls endure. "You don't necessarily change who you are, but you grow into who you are," she said of adolescence. "Throughout high school, I became more independent. I became stronger and had a more positive attitude."

Of all the issues preteens face, Mariano said she thinks the hardest subject is peer pressure. "Every girl deals with pressure to wear their makeup a certain way, dress a certain way, pressure for drugs and alcohol. I went through all that.''

She also recognizes the popularity of cliques among preteens, yet encourages girls to branch out. "I had several different groups of friends. I was in plays so I had drama friends. I ran track so I had track team friends. I was a cheerleader so I had cheerleader friends,'' Mariano said. "It develops your personality. It teaches you how to deal with social situations later on in life and helps you relate to every single person out there."

Her favorite chapter in the book deals with family life. "I'm very close with my family, especially after spending so much time away from them during Survivor," she said. "It teaches you to appreciate them. My older brother and sister were my biggest role models."

Mariano is considering writing another book, possibly a children's book or a second advice book, this time for girls ages 15 to 19. For now, she just hopes readers enjoy Amber's Guide for Girls.

"I hope they have a lot of fun reading it,'' she said. "I hope they share the subjects with their parents and their girlfriends and have a bonding experience.''

Amanda Machado, 17, is a senior at Plant High School in Tampa.

[Last modified May 8, 2006, 06:23:48]

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