A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this advice book for teens from actress Elizabeth Berkley is based on the work she does with her nonprofit, Ask-Elizabeth. There's some discussion of tough issues -- including the sudden death of a friend, cutting, attempted suicide, and dating abuse -- and teens mention substance-related topics (drugs and alcohol at a party, a stoned boyfriend, dealing with a friend addicted to cocaine, drinking heavily after a break up, and taking pills to overdose). But the book's overall messages are about developing self-esteem and skills to deal with the hard stuff. It will get teens thinking about important issues, like how they feel about themselves or how to handle bullies or a broken heart. Berkley also includes essays from experts and provides resources for teens who need additional help.
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What's the story?
Actress Elizabeth Berkley uses her work at her nonprofit Ask-Elizabeth as a launching pad to create a book that looks at the tough parts of growing up: self-esteem, love, friendship, parents, etc. ASK ELIZABETH is put together like a scrapbook, with lots of hand-written notes from real teenagers, who share their advice and experiences. Berkley, too, remembers her own first heartbreaks and more -- even sharing her painful experience as the star of the cult movie Showgirls (though she doesn't mention it by name).
Is it any good?
The scrapbook format is fun, and the book's messages about loving and believing in yourself -- even through the hard times-- come across as genuine. Teens can learn a lot from reading the girls' various stories and will appreciate a little advice from experts. Readers have to be willing to deal with Berkley's constant asides, written in pink ink ("I'm sending you a huge hug right now"), and some of the advice may seem shallow (for example, when talking about what makes a good relationship, Berkley writes, "If you don't have an example of a good relationship in your life, you can create your own great vision").
But for teens just entering the world of complicated relationships, the book provides some smart ideas for saying strong -- like staying positive, trying new experiences, or even venting anger in writing before trying to communicate hurt feelings. More than anything, this book provides much-needed support to teens as they tangle with the tough stuff.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the best way to use this book. Is it something they want to read alone, with friends, or as a family?
This book spent several weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. Why do you think it struck such a chord with readers? Do you think it's the book's content, the author's celebrity, or a mix of both?
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