a year in an american high school
Author: Elisha Cooper
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Dial (March 13, 2008)
ridiculous/hilarious/terrible/cool: A Year in an American High School is an interesting, nonfiction YA book. The author sent a copy to me, and I planned on doing a review from a mom's point of view, but something interesting happened. My 15 old son saw the book and asked what it was. I explained and he shrugged, of course. Next thing I know he wants to take it to school and read it. That was great. Then it got even more interesting. My son had it sitting on his desk while he finished up some work and a girl he knew grabbed it and read the first 30 pages. She gave it back and asked if she could borrow it, but apparently there was a waiting list. Another friend on the bus had already called dibs on the book. Wow, this was weird. Teenagers not only wanted to read a non-fiction book without being asked, but they are calling dibs on it. I'm thinking Mr. Cooper will love hearing about this phenomenon:)
The book follows six seniors and two juniors through the entire school year and tells their stories. The language does get rough at times, there are a few awkward guy/girl moments plus drinking and drug use. It's for mature 14 year olds or kids 15 and up. My son talked to me alot about the book as he read it and afterwards. The students in the book don't attend a public high school like he does, it's a prep school, but my son said that didn't really bother him. They were interested in things that all teens are: sports, drama, college, relationships, and family. He was really glad that the author included an epilogue at the end so he could find out what happened with each kid afterwards.
I know it's hard to let our teens read about things that are awkward like sex and drugs, but all they have to do is pick up a newspaper or watch the news to get a hard dose of reality. We can't protect them forever, so I think it's better to PREPARE them. Sitting them down out of the blue and saying "Hey, let's talk about drugs." is often an awkward and one-sided conversation. Reading a book together and chatting about the kids in it, is MUCH more relaxed and interesting for our kids.
You can visit Elisha Cooper's website here and the book can be ordered there too. ridiculous/hilarious/terrible/cool would make a great gift for any teen in your life. I'm really glad that my son and I read it and had such cool discussions. I think you will be too.