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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Short installments could make this a good choice for reluctant readers. Some parents and teachers may want to use this book to talk about empathy, bullying, and school violence.
There is an important message about the pain many high school kids feel as they struggle with unique problems in the often intolerant halls of high school.
Positive Role Models
These kids have problems -- for example, a white supremacist is planning a violent attack on his school -- but reading about the struggles of other kids can teach teens to empathize with those who are different from them.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of weapons, a planned but thwarted school assault. Some beatings referred to but not described.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
References to condoms and "doing it." Two teens have sex, not graphic; another worries that she might be a lesbian, and yet another has sex with a number of married older men, not described.
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An array of four-letter words, and racial and sexual epithets.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
References to doobies, joints, "blazing up," and underage drinking. A father gives his son beer.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book examines the harsh world of high school in an easy-to-read format that works well to lead reluctant readers into passionate discussion. The narrators chronicle events leading up to a planned school attack. There's lots of sensitive material here, but reading about the struggles of other kids can teach teens to empathize with those who are different from themselves.
Is It Any Good?
The characters may not be developed, but their voices and concerns are often real, and raw, and there's a lot of meaning packed into a few words. Though all the different voices can get a bit confusing, the types a bit clichéd, and the ending a bit too easy, the author shows how the mundane, everyday concerns of teens can be more important to them than the disaster looming before their eyes.
Almost any of these short, simple poems, chosen at random, could be a discussion starter between parent and teen, or teacher and class. Cumulatively they give teens much to think and talk about.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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