A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that as a realistic window into many teens' daily lives, He Said She Said is mostly positive in tone, but includes plenty of sex talk and sexual situations, such as underage and oral sex, a sex tape, and discussion of abortion. It also features lots of salty language, drug use, and violence. Parents should be prepared to talk about sexuality and health, peer pressure, and social media use.
What's the story?
Kwame Alexander's HE SAID SHE SAID portrays a version of today's teen life saturated with social media, hormones, and status. Star quarterback Omar scores as much on the field as off, but he gets nowhere with Claudia, the school's valedictorian and resident goody two-shoes. Omar sets out to make her his latest conquest, but instead learns to care about Claudia, her latest crusade, and becoming a true friend.
Is it any good?
He Said She Said offers an interesting look at two sides of the lead characters' relationship dance. While Omar and Claudia first appear as stereotypical teen book characters, they evolve into complex souls who'll have readers caring about and rooting for them as the story develops. Author Kwame Alexander does a masterful job weaving in three essential characters -- Omar, Claudia, and social media, which now plays a supporting role in any convincing teen tale.
Tough topics -- the rise of teen sports stars on the national stage, the depressing state of education funding, teen sexual health, abortion, and the perception of teen apathy -- are part of the story, but leave enough unsaid that there's plenty of room for discussions between parents and their own teens. Poet Alexander's lyrical prose moves the story along at a nice pace.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the importance of being an active participant in our society, even as a student. Do you think it's important to stand up to policies that adversely affect students? How?
One of the themes in He said She Said is the pressure on teens to have sex, regardless of their true feelings. Is there peer pressure at your school to engage in sexual activities? What can you do about it?
How do stereotypes and the pressure to conform to them affect the environment at your school? Have you ever wanted to take part in an activity or event, but didn't because of other people's expectations?
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