Thousand Words

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
Thousand Words Book Poster Image
Cautionary tale about teen girl whose nude pic goes viral.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Thousand Words could open up some good conversations about the dangers of sexting. Parents may also want to talk about the kids at Ashleigh's school who forwarded on the photo -- even though they weren't responsible for its initial dissemination. Since according to the book, "20 percent of teens have sent nude or seminude photos or videos of themselves to someone else," these are important topics to address. 

Positive Messages

This is a cautionary tale about sexting, but it's also about a girl learning to move on -- and define herself -- after making a devastating mistake.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ashleigh knows that she made a mistake, but she also realizes that she's bigger than this one moment in her life: "How long had I been letting other people decide who I was? ... When was the last time I'd said who I was?"

Violence
Sex

Ashleigh has never had sex, but she does send a naked picture of herself to her boyfriend. The next day, they spend the afternoon making out on his boat. Ashleigh's friends later prank Kaleb by writing gay-themed messages with shoe polish on the windows of his truck. A girl in Ashleigh's community service program is pregnant. Ashleigh has to handle a lot of sexual teasing, including insults and gestures.

Language

One instance of "f--k." Some uses of "s--t," "bitch," "dick," "slut," "ass," "crap," etc.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Ashleigh is drunk at a party with lots of heavy drinking when she send the picture. In her community service program, other kids talk about a drug dealer. Ashleigh talks about her dad drinking wine "at record speed."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Thousand Words is about a girl who -- while drunk at a party with lots of heavy drinking -- takes a naked picture of herself that eventually goes viral. As a result, she has to endure humiliating teasing at school, in her town, and on her phone. There's some swearing and some kissing, and other characters include a suspected drug dealer and a pregnant teen. This is a cautionary tale about sexting, but it's also a powerful story about a girl learning to move on -- and define herself -- after making a devastating mistake. Parents may want to talk about the kids at Ashleigh's school who forwarded on the photo -- even though they weren't responsible for its initial dissemination. Since according to the book, "20 percent of teens have sent nude or seminude photos or videos of themselves to someone else," these are important topics to address. For advice, check out our Talking About Sexting article. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 13 years old Written bytrustytruth20 December 21, 2013

its an okay book

this book was okay. Sometimes it gets boring, but its hard to not want to know what happens at the end.
Teen, 13 years old Written byCastielWinchester May 13, 2016

An important lesson

I really loved this book I chouldn't put it down. I think that this book is made for a more mature group to read. I think the lesson is really important fo... Continue reading

What's the story?

Through flashbacks, Asheigh --a cross country runner with a good family and a long-term boyfriend -- reveals her devastating tale, which is straight from today's headlines: When she takes a naked picture of herself with her phone and sends it to her boyfriend, she intends it to be just for him. But right away she suspects Kaleb has shown it around. And when he breaks up with her, she learns an even more mortifying truth: In anger, he sent her private picture to almost everyone on his contacts list -- and now it's going viral. Even her dad has seen it. Worse, Ashleigh gets busted for distributing child pornography, and has to do court-ordered community service with other teen delinquents.

Is it any good?

Ashleigh's honest narration keeps THOUSAND WORDS from feeling like a scripted problem novel. She readily admits to feeling powerful when she sends her picture to Kaleb, and is equally honest about her mortification when the picture goes viral ("I closed my eyes. Nothing worked to keep the embarrassment from me. Being blind. Being deaf. Being frozen. Being an observer. Being silent. I still felt humiliated no matter what I was.") Readers will feel sick to their stomachs as things just get worse and worse -- but they will also admire her gradual realization that she doesn't have to let one  bad decision define her for the rest of her life.

While an extreme situation, this book should help teens develop better cyber-sense so they don't take any kind of picture -- or forward any on --  without thinking of the potential consequences. Hopefully, it also will help them forgive themselves, and each other, when they do make errors in judgment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about sexting. What would you do if a friend sent you a naked picture of someone you know?  For more advice for having a thoughtful conversation, check out our article Talking About Sexting.

  • What do you think of how strongly school parents reacted to Ashleigh's picture going viral? What would happen at your school community if something like this happened?

  • Ashleigh's punishment includes having to write a brochure about the dangers of sexting. Is this a good punishment? Do you think teens are less likely to sext if they know the consequences?

Book details

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