Monday, July 22, 2013

Book Review: Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown

Ashleigh Maynard has a pretty great life.  In the summer before her Junior year she has a great best friend, a sweet boyfriend, a place on the cross-country team and a decent relationship with her parents.  While at her best friend Vonnie's great summer bash, a drunken Ashleigh is starting to feel really bummed that her boyfriend Kaleb keeps ditching her to play baseball and hang out with his friends. Soon, a few friends have convinced Ashleigh that she should send him a naked photo of herself- you know so he doesn't forget her when he goes off to college in the fall.  After all, lots of people do it.  Before she can think twice, Ashleigh has snapped the pic and sent the text to Kaleb.

Flash forward a few months.  Kaleb has gone off to college and Ash finds that he is still pulling away from her.  She tries to call him but keeps accusing him of sleeping with college girls.  Finally, Kaleb has had enough and comes home one weekend to break up with Ashleigh. Things get out of hand and before Ashleigh knows what is happening the great boyfriend she used to love has turned into a spiteful, mean individual. 

Then the whispers start.  At first, Ashleigh has no idea what the guys at school are talking about.  Until a friend tells Ashleigh that her nude photo is being passed around the entire school via text.  Someone even added her name and phone number to the bottom of the photo and now she is getting all kinds of sick and mean texts from people.  What is going on?  How did the photo get out?  Kaleb would never do something like that...would he?

In a whirlwind of chaos, Ashleigh is suspended from school, arrested for "distributing child pornography" and in order to set an example, she is forced to do 60 hours of community service with a bunch of other teens who have messed up.   Sure, she made a really stupid mistake by taking that picture, but she never intended for anyone but Kaleb to see it.  Why has Vonnie suddenly ditched her?  And why is everyone making her out to be a criminal?  The saying goes that a "picture is worth a thousand words" but it may not tell the whole story.

Thousand Words is a book for those of you who like realistic stories.  Told between flashbacks and Ashleigh's daily life spent doing community service, you get to piece the story together while seeing all of the confusion inside her head. Technology may make our lives easier, but as Jennifer Brown shows, once something is out in cyber space, it stays in cyber space. 

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