Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown

Published: May 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 288
Copy Provided by: Borrowed
Summary: 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. 

Acclaimed author Jennifer Brown brings readers a gripping novel about honesty and betrayal, redemption and friendship, attraction and integrity, as Ashleigh finds that while a picture may be worth a thousand words . . . it doesn't always tell the whole story.


If you are looking for a light read, it is best to move past Thousand Words.  It is a heavy subject and tore at my heartstrings.  Jennifer Brown has a way of taking you for a roller coaster ride of emotions...but it's a good thing.  She connects with the reality of the situation so you can see all points of view and have true empathy for the characters involved.

Everyone, and I do mean everyone, does things that they regret later in life.  Mistakes are how we all learn but sometimes, mistakes can be a bit more public than others.  With the new culture of social media and a younger generation that is open with information in their lives, where are our limits to privacy?  How do we draw the line to those things that should not be shared with others?  

At one point I got that "sick to the pit of your stomach" feeling as Ash realized that her photo had been distributed amongst her peers. So many questions raced through my head.  Particularly - WHY?? Why would he do something like that to her?

Thousand Words will make you question some of the texts and images you send to friends and how they affect others.  Ashleigh was a victim of her ex-boyfriend's actions but in sending the photo, the consequences had never crossed her mind.  She was humiliated and treated with contempt and bullying from her peers once it went viral.  Jennifer Brown also explores how Kaleb's life changes from his actions, something I had not considered before.

For me, Jennifer Brown is the Jodi Piccoult of YA.  She takes these incredibly difficult topics and sucks you into the vortex of the situation so you are no longer an observer but a participant in what is going on.  If you haven't yet read Hate List, I also highly recommend that title as well.  I would recommend Thousand Words to high school students for ISU projects and as a contemporary novel.  Because of the topic and the language in this book, it might not be suitable for advanced, yet younger readers.

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