Book Review: Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown

Image Courtesy of Goodreads.com

From Goodreads

Ashleigh’s boyfriend, Kaleb, is about to leave for college, and Ashleigh is worried that he’ll forget about her while he’s away. So at a legendary end-of-summer pool party, Ashleigh’s friends suggest she text him a picture of herself — sans swimsuit — to take with him. Before she can talk herself out of it, Ashleigh strides off to the bathroom, snaps a photo in the full-length mirror, and hits “send.”

But when Kaleb and Ashleigh go through a bad breakup, Kaleb takes revenge by forwarding the text to his baseball team. Soon the photo has gone viral, attracting the attention of the school board, the local police, and the media. As her friends and family try to distance themselves from the scandal, Ashleigh feels completely alone — until she meets Mack while serving her court-ordered community service. Not only does Mack offer a fresh chance at friendship, but he’s the one person in town who received the text of Ashleigh’s photo — and didn’t look.

Cover Gushing Worthiness: This cover doesn’t really do anything for me personally. I don’t find that it conveys what the book is about at all. Then again I actually didn’t pick this book up for the cover, but rather for what the story was about. It’s a thumbs down for me this time.

Review: 

A picture’s worth a thousand words but they don’t tell the whole story.

When it comes to reading Young Adult books I’m all about reading ‘issue books’, especially since being a teenager now is so different to my own experience. There are more ways to be cruel to people and there’s a lack of privacy. When Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner mentioned Thousand Words in one of her ‘Catalogue Creepin’ posts I knew it would be something I wanted to read. However I’ve come away with a mixed bag of feelings about this book.

I don’t know if there are other YA or NA titles that deal with sexting, but I commend  Jennifer Brown for tackling an issue that has become so prevalent in the lives of teenagers today. Reading Thousand Words reminded me a lot of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver in that the characters of both books had similar traits and no sense of what the consequences would be because of their actions.

Told in the voice of Ashleigh- the book’s protagonist, Thousand Words follows the events after Ashleigh sends Kaleb a naked picture of herself. The chapters are divided into the months of August and September-the time when the events take place and ‘Community Service’ where Ashleigh serves her ‘punishment’ so to speak.

So the story sounds interesting doesn’t it? A book about a teen facing the repercussions of her actions and realizing the events are bigger than she is? Yes it’s interesting, but that’s all there was to it for me; interest, nothing more. I appreciate the fact that this book looked into how deeply a sexting scandal can affect not just the party in question, but an entire community of students, parents, teachers, administrators and a School Board. However if Brown wanted me to care about Ashleigh then she failed in that department. I understand that it may seem like I didn’t like this book; but I liked it, I just didn’t love it like I hoped I would. I liked the plot of this book and I liked that there weren’t any romantic subplots. This made me so happy since it’s so hard to come by YA books that don’t completely focus on romantic entanglements. I thought the ending was  somewhat satisfying and I liked that Brown stayed away from making this book sound like it was preaching “DON’T SEND NAKED PICTURES TO YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER!!!”. Instead Brown presented a scenario of what could happen if someone texted a naked picture of themselves to their significant other and highly charged teenage emotions got in the way of judgment, reason and logic.

I’ve already mentioned that I didn’t like Ashleigh’s character. Logically I should have liked Ashleigh’s character since she’s portrayed as a victim and she partially is, but she comes across as incredibly whiny and self-centered. I felt like she actually didn’t quite grasp the seriousness of the situation and how it affected her family. She didn’t do herself any favours when she made this comment either

Well, if it makes you feel better, my life sucks right now, too,  Dad. Everyone is making fun of me and calling me names. This has been the worst day of my life, do you even care?

………………………

I’m sorry, Dad. It was a stupid mistake. What more do you want me to say? I only meant for Kaleb to see it.

When I read that passage in my head I was thinking “Are you for real? Are you seriously going to compare your life to your dad’s right now?” I just couldn’t fathom Ashleigh’s behaviour. I understand that she made a mistake and she’s human. We all are, but at the same time we need to take responsibility and understand the gravity of the situations and our part in it. Ashleigh failed to understand in my opinion.

More than Ashleigh I really pitied her parents, especially her dad. I felt like his response to the situation at hand was realistic, so what Ashleigh’s mom’s response. I think what saddened me the most was the breakdown in the relationship between Ashleigh and her parents. A lot of mistrust surfaced after the scandal and I wish their relationship could have been explored further.

Kaleb- Ashleigh’s ex-boyfriend unsurprisingly was a jerk. As someone who is older than Ashleigh I expected him to be a bit wiser in his decision-making, but apparently my expectations were in vain. At the same time though it did feel like he was a one-dimensional character. All we got was that Kaleb was a jerk, we didn’t really see another side to him and I think that’s disappointing. Like Ashleigh he’s human as well. At the same time he was an insincere character. It felt like he was only sorry about what would happen to him in regards to the scandal as opposed to feeling any remorse for Ashleigh. I wished Brown would have spoken about him a bit more and what happened to him in the end.

Mack, the boy in Ashleigh’s Teens Talking class was a bit of an underdeveloped character. I think he could have spoken more, instead of us being told his entire life story at the very end of the book. I did feel sympathy for him because of his situation, but he could have been a better character had he been developed more. I can’t say that I liked Ashleigh’s best friend Vonnie. I can say that I’m glad that she wasn’t my best friend as a teenager.

Overall Thousand Words was an informative read about the consequences teens face when confronted with a Sexting Scandal. I didn’t love this book the way I hoped I would. I think it could have been a better book had it been told in third person and if Ashleigh’s character was more likable. This was my first Jennifer Brown read and while I liked it, I wasn’t blown away by her writing style. I may give her other books a try because she writes about issues that are close to me.

My Rating: 3/5

Would I recommend it? Maybe

6 comments

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  2. Lesley Marie

    I don’t think that I will be very impressed with the characters, but I definitely want to see what this book will deliver to me in terms of informing the possible consequences of sexting and it’s effects. I don’t approve of sending naked pictures to a person, but I feel very sorry for teens who have and had to suffer because of it…

    Wonderful review!

    • Savindi (The Streetlight Reader)

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Lesley :). I thought the research behind the book about sexting and what the consequences are for a minor and an adult were really good. I just wish the characters had more death. Sending pictures is someone’s personal choice and they’re free to do what they want. But they’ve got to be prepared for the consequences that can follow if relationships become strained and stuff.

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