Melissa Ann Pinney’s book of photographs is about girls, and a girl. The girl is her daughter, Emma, now 15, who appears in pictures dating back to 2004—taking a sick day from school, getting her long hair brushed by her grandma, applying eye makeup. The other girls are her contemporaries and friends—American kids in the process of growing up. Pinney lives in Evanston, and many of the locations she depicts are in the Chicago area, but every so often there’s the oddly familiar bit of exotica: midwestern kids, for instance, exploring a bamboo forest on Maui.

Girl Ascending is due out in January from the Center for American Places at Columbia College.