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 book is about a girl struggling to cope with an alcoholic father. In an alcohol-fueled rage, her father hits her young brother with a bottle. Also, Sam shares some serious kisses with a high school boy; he pressures her to have sex one night while she's drunk at a party -- until he realizes she's only 13. That same night, she is molested by a group of boys in her grade; when she returns to school, she's called names and her locker is vandalized. In the end, this honest depiction of a struggling family may help readers (and their parents) delve into a touchy topic. Parents and teachers may want to check out Common Sense Media's Alcohol in the Media Tips for some facts and advice.
What's the story?
Samantha's father is an alcoholic and her mother is in denial. Sam doesn't want her friends to know what's happening in her house, so she starts leaving notes for a stranger in the library -- and getting answers. Problems escalate at home and at school, making her mysterious adviser finally reveal himself.
Is it any good?
It should be apparent from the title: LUSH deals with alcoholism; as such, it is a pretty typical problem novel with a pretty standard story arc. Readers won't be surprised when Sam's father finally hits rock bottom (though his violent attack on her sweet young brother seems over the top). Nor will they be shocked when her family finally begins to heal at the end of the book.
Author Natasha Friend employs a clever device in the letters that Sam exchanges with a mysterious stranger in the library -- though readers may wish it were flushed out a bit more. Friend also creates tender exchanges between Sam and her parents, and her brother. In the end, Friend treads familiar territory here, but her honest depictions of a struggling family may help readers (and their parents) delve into a touchy topic.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about "problem novels" like this one that deal with a tough subject. How are books like this helpful for teens? Why would the author choose to include a list of resources in the back of her book?
Did you know that the more alcohol ads young people see, the more they drink? According to one 2006 study, each additional dollar alcohol companies spend on advertising raises the number of drinks youths consume by 3 percent. If you were in charge, would you place any restrictions on alcohol advertisers -- or on other kinds of media targeting teens?
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