Sunday, August 11, 2013

Thousand words by Jennifer Brown

It started with something very simple - a photo snapped and sent to a boyfriend who wasn't there to share the fun of the party, but it wasn't an ordinary photo - it was a naked snapshot.  Now Ashleigh has to live with the consequences of a moment of drunken stupidity, because when her boyfriend breaks up with her and things turn ugly, he sends the intimate picture to someone he knows and it is soon spreading through the school like wildfire.  Ashleigh has gone from being just another girl from a well off family to that girl, the slut, the whore, the object of jokes and snide comments.  

To make matters worse, Ashleigh has to complete 60 hours of community service because sending the picture to her boyfriend was considered an act of sharing child pornography.  Ashleigh has been living in a nightmare, one that keeps growing and gaining more momentum as more and more people receive the picture and even post it online.  It is a miserable time for Ashleigh and her parents, but worse is still to come - because Ashleigh's father is the superintendent and some people want him to resign because of her actions.  Ashleigh has to find the courage to look at the events that have led up to this moment, and she has to accept the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth if she truly wants things to get better.

Thousand words is an intense and enlightening novel, one that skips back and forth between the present time with Ashleigh in community service, and back in time a few months to when the infamous events took place.  At first this was a little annoying, but only because I wanted to know more right now, but the tension in the story is sooo much better when you have to wait to see what happens next, how things go from bad to worse, and how Ashleigh's life starts to spiral out of control.  It is so easy to see how this story could be happening right now to a naive teenager who trusts his or her partner, sending an intimate picture that will ultimately be abused by the other person if things go wrong.

Jennifer Brown is not afraid to tackle difficult or confrontational topics, and Thousand words doesn't pull any punches - Ashleigh is in real trouble, as are some of the other main "cast" members.  The voice of Ashleigh comes across as very real, and there are moments when you want to shake her because she blames everyone except for herself - she may have trusted the person she shouldn't have, but it takes her a long time to realise and accept her role in the events.  Her ex-boyfriend Kaleb is also interesting, and while he seems a bit of  walking cliche when he starts college, sometimes cliches exist for a reason - and his role in the later part of the book rings true for someone who feels sorry for himself.

I picked this book up because I read Hate list earlier and enjoyed the dose of realistic writing and the intense topic and wanted to see if Brown could deliver a second time - and I was not disappointed.  As sexting is a hot debate topic, and as there are teenagers out there who do share pictures with their partners I would highly recommend this book for teenagers to see how things can fall apart if you trust the wrong person, but I would also recommend it to anyone who just likes a really good book to read.

If you like this book then try:
  • Hate list by Jennifer Brown
  • Bitter end by Jennifer Brown
  • I swear by Lane Davis
  • Rooftop by Paul Volponi
  • Panic by Sharon M. Draper
  • Thirteen reasons why by Jay Asher

Reviewed by Brilla

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