I hate reading about something bad happening to a character I like. So, as I began to like Ashleigh Maynard, I read with trepidation, knowing that Thousand Words is about a nude photo of Ashleigh texted to her boyfriend going viral. However, Jennifer Brown (author of The Hate List) handles the situation well.
We hear so many warnings on the news about what you should and shouldn’t put on your social media pages. We hear about potential employers checking Facebook and its equivalents to see what’s out there on potential employees. We don’t hear quite as much about the impact on teens and their families and friends when a simple mistake, such as texting or putting on social media, compromising photos, be they nude photos or otherwise, goes viral which in this instantaneous, cell phone age will happen.
Jennifer Brown does an outrageous job in the form of high school junior, Ashleigh Maynard, who drunk at a summer party, texts a frontally nude photo of herself to her college bound boyfriend, Kaleb, who has spent more time with the ‘guys’ over the summer than with Ashleigh. The reasons for the photo going viral are important, but less so, than the impact on the characters. What we and our children don’t realize is that both Ashleigh, 16, and Kaleb, 18, can be charged with distributing child pornography. The criminal ramifications based on the different ages are dramatically different.
Brown describes in realistic detail the emotional impact on Ashleigh, her friends to some extent and her parents, exacerbated by the fact that her father is superintendent of schools in their district. The characters are marvelous. The story rings true. The writing just adds to the realism of Ashleigh’s tale.
In the hands of a less talented writer, this story could be mundane or sordid. However, we all know Jennifer Brown has talent and she does teens a great service by informing them of the consequences of one ‘little’ mistake. Parents and teens alike MUST read this book.
I”m not a fan of sequels, but the story of Kaleb should be told as well. Jennifer, what about a ‘companion’ piece?