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By Jonny Matthew on 02-12-16
This one left me in a quandary...
What made the experience of listening to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Tough Times - Stories about the Hardest Parts of Being a Teenager the most enjoyable?
This one left me in a quandary. So here's the summary of strengths and weaknesses...
- Short stories about a whole range of life issues from the perspective of teenagers - offering comfort for kids and a rare insight for adults
- A good mix of boys and girls - but I suspect slightly more from girls than boys (though I haven't counted them!)
- Fantastic insight into how teens make sense of the hard things that happen - both to them and those around them
- Some lovely stories of how friendships and other trusted individuals can truly save the day - and, in some case, can save lives
- Very challenging of attitudes that look down on the experiences of young people - their relative naïveté doesn't mean they don't feel things, or have some very sensible stuff to say!
- American perspective, so the examples are culturally weighted that way, as you'd expect. But the kernels are good despite this.
- This is a book written by and, I suspect, mainly for balanced teens going through tough stuff. It's not for or about teens from very difficult backgrounds about coping with that - though there are a few stories of that kind.
- The writers - teenagers - are incredibly psychologically aware. Which makes suspect that, at best, they are not typical. At worst - dare I say it - I was left questioning whether they were actually written by kids at all. That said, in order to get the juice out of such stories and to learn the teen perspective, it really helps to have them written by intelligent teens who write well...
It's not a fun read by any stretch. But there's something extremely poignant about it - almost shocking. As an adult it's so easy to dismiss much of what teenagers go through. To look down on it - just a little bit.
This book will challenge that. There are some heart-warming stories of genuine joy and some that leave you cold with dread - at what can happen. ALL of them underline the sense that we look down on teenagers and their experiences at our peril...