It’s really cool when young adult books take on issues that are actually relevant to teenagers. Yet, sometimes I read these books and am unable to take my grown up hat off. It’s like when I am browsing the news sites and there’s a story about what kids these days are doing like that choking game or the condom up the nose thing and I think to myself WHY?! I DO NOT GET IT. Alas, sometimes that happens with me and books too. Like, with the topic of Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown, sexting, I just felt myself saying WHY? Not, ya know, to the book, but to the whole why sext thing. Thankfully, Brown’s latest book shed some light on that whole issue for me.
Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown follows dual timelines. One timeline is set in the past, in the time leading up to Ashleigh’s sext to her boyfriend at the time, Kaleb, and the fall out that results. The other timeline takes place after and details Ashleigh’s time in community service working on a pamphlet for Teens Talk on sexting and how she makes friends with this guy named Mack who is the strong and silent type. Really, the entire plot does center around that one incident and how she grows past it, which I like — that she’s painted as someone who won’t be bullied or unhappy forever, but one who is resilient.
Ashleigh is the daughter of the school superintendent. She comes from a good family. She does cross country. She’s friends with the popular girls. She actually does quite well in school. Essentially she is the last character or person one would expect to send a nude picture of herself via the phone. Her judgment is not exactly the best. Ah, well. So anyways, I felt bad for her and felt sympathy as well. Unfortunately, I found it kind of hard to relate to her. Like, her story is interesting and all, just I did not connect as well as I had hoped.
One good thing about Thousand Words is that it raises awareness of the sexting issue and the damage it can cause. I think it’s great to educate teenagers about why sending nude pics of yourself over the phone is stupid. I am not entirely sure how much education kids get in school about it, and if many know that it is actually a crime with pretty deep repercussions. So, I think that books like this can be important for the information that they provide.
For some odd reason, I am not entirely in love with Brown’s writing style. I guess this book just did not feel entirely authentic and organic to me. For example, there’s a part where some girls call Ashleigh a ho in the hallway and she responds, well you must be missing something on the inside to say something like that. Or some such, I don’t remember accurately. I do, however, remember my reaction which was an eye roll. Like, in real life if that happened, I am pretty sure there would be some throwing down and maybe some f-bombs. Maybe my rural school district was just a bit more tough, but yeah, I felt like that scene seemed unreal. And honestly, that’s my impression of the book. Don’t get me wrong, lots of people loved Thousand Words, but I personally did not. I would not hesitate to recommend Brown’s book to people who can’t get enough of gritty real-life issues as they provide a safe place to explore tough subjects.
Disclosure: Received for review via Netgalley
Other reviews of Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown:
Xpresso Reads – “just the right amount of heart, friendship, family, and emotion”
Chick Loves Lit – “does an excellent job of showing the impact one split decision can make on someone’s life”
Book Goonie – “provided teens with a powerful warning on an issue that could ruin their lives very easily”
Books by Jennifer Brown: