Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown

published on May 21st 2013 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers
contemporary | romance

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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.

REVIEW

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

Jennifer Brown is an author I’ve been meaning to read from for a while now. I know she writes about sensitive issues that are relevant in this generation, and I respect her for that. For being being able to open up the eyes of the youth (and even people past their youth) to different kinds of problems that other teens and people are experiencing.

Thousand Words explores an issue that not a lot of us (I’d assume) are concerned about, possibly because we’ve never known anyone who’s done this–sexting. It was very realistically done, too. Peer pressure really affects a person’s choices, and that’s exactly what Ashleigh experienced. When her friends pushed her to take the picture, she did.

“I was not my mistakes. I was definitely not defined by anyone.”

You can clearly see how Ashleigh’s character develops throughout the entire novel. We’re given past (things before and after the picture) and the present (community service) chapters to fully get a grasp of the story. During the past chapters, I really couldn’t connect to Ashleigh’s character and thought that she was a boring bitch. But in the present chapters? I sympathized so much with Ashleigh (but still without connection) and rooted for her.

Now, you shouldn’t go into this novel thinking there’s going to be a cute guy in community service whom Ashleigh will fall in love with and will solve all her problems. Fine, Mack’s definitely adorable and I love him, but this isn’t a sweet or sappy love story. It isn’t a love story at all. Thousand Words is the story of a girl who made a mistake and who wants to fit in with the rest of the world again.

This is definitely a well written novel. Brown crafted a realistic set of characters who did what other people would probably do in their situations. Ashleigh knew that her friends were doing things for her sake, but she still got mad when they offended her. We’d do that, right? Some friends abandoned Ashleigh after her photo went viral. We’d probably do that. Maybe.

We also have a lovely cast of delinquents in community service with different issues of their own, and I love the diversity of their problems. There was a teen mother, a guy who beat his father up, a guy who sold drugs… All different, but with relevant problems.

Despite all of its positive points, I was a bit disconnected from the story. I’m not quite sure why, but there were times when I didn’t really give a crap about the characters, or I wanted the story to have more excitement… Different kinds of readers will interpret this story differently, so my dis-attachment may just only be because of me.


Basically:

This book is not for the light of heart. If you’re into issues that need to be discussed, Thousand Words (or Jennifer Brown in general) will probably work out for you.

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Have you read from Jennifer Brown before? How do you feel about books that deal with sensitive issues?

Aimee does not deal well with sensitive topics. Books with these topics make her over-think life and all the world’s current issues. She normally doesn’t like to think about those since they make her sad and disappointed.

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50 thoughts on “Review: Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown

  1. I actually loved this story as well. Even if it doesn’t have a major romance to it, I am still drawn to how perfectly written the story is. I’m glad that you like it ish. :D

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  2. I really loved this book and it’s dear to my heart. I loved that it tackled so many issues and for once, I was happy that there wasn’t that much emphasis on the new love interest (as you said, Mack is barely a love interest in this novel) and I loved how different it was to the stuff I usually read. Brown is definitely an author I’ll explore to further length. So happy you liked this as a whole :)

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    1. I usually like to stay in my comfort zone (YA with romance), but this time I was glad I ventured out of it! I’ll be checking out more of Brown’s books as well. :)

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  3. Aw, I’m sorry Aimee. I hate when story is good, but you still feel disconnected from the characters. And when it happens in a book like this one—with characters you’re clearly supposed to empathize with . . . no bueno. I haven’t read Jennifer Brown before, and sensitive issues are . . . sensitive. There are certain subjects that I avoid entirely, but for the rest, as long as they’re handled well, and not offensively, I think they’re important. Someone needs to address those issues, right?

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    1. I’m not big on sensitive books, either, but I do respect authors for trying to get their messages across to a reader. As long as they’re done well and are respectful, I’ll gladly give them a go. :)

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  4. I might read this but not now. I’ve been reading a lot of books with heavy theme and I think it has been affecting my mood swings too lol. Anyways, I am adding this to my TBR list because you liked it although you didn’t connect with the characters. I think that’s okay since this was focusing on an issue a young lady like should never engage in to. That happens to me as well and I still give fair ratings to the book. :)

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    1. Hahaha! Yeah, go for something lighter though. :) If I did manage to connect with the characters, I bet this one’d be a 5-star or something close to it!

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  5. I’ve been wanting to read this one for sometime but i’m kind of put off by the fact that you didn’t fully connect with the story, i’m probably still going to give it a try just later…once i’m not still feeling a disconnection bug (my last few reads haven’t been all that great)Great review :)

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  6. I’m a sucker for a good love story, and it’s terrible how I’ve started to expect one from every book. From the cover, and the hype, I thought Thousand Words was about a girl and boy getting together (gah), so THE SHOCK when I found out it’s dealing with an issue that I’ve (truthfully) had no idea about. Really appreciate it when you mentioned “It isn’t a love story at all. Thousand Words is the story of a girl who made a mistake and who wants to fit in with the rest of the world again.”, probably time for me to step away from that pile of romance-saturated books, and take on this new perspective that Thousand Words has to offer. Thank you for this review!

    Alicia @ Summer Next Top Story

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    1. Exactly! Same goes for me. :( Hahaha! I was expecting a cutesy, protective-ish romance from this one as well–but for some reason, I’m glad there wasn’t a romance. Thanks so much, Alicia! <3

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  7. This is one of those books that I’ve been meaning to read for a long time but never have time for it. I’m really glad you read it and I like books dealing with some issues or problems of today’s youth. I totally agree that sexting is a great issue today I like that this book deals with it. I’m glad you enjoyed it overall. Great review :)

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    1. I have a lot of those kinds of books… Sitting on my shelves and begging me to pick them up in bookstores! A lot of issues should be talked about, and I’m glad some authors are stepping up and doing so. :)

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  8. I read this last year and was glad that there was friendship and not romance between Ashleigh and Mack. I agree, this book is not for the light of heart. It’s an inspirational read for me. Hope your next-read will give you more excitement. Thanks for sharing, Aimee!

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  9. I’ve only read one Jennifer Brown book (Torn Away), and was also really impressed with her ability to write about such sensitive topics. I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed this one Aimee – even if you were a bit disconnected to it. Ashleigh sounds like a character lots of teenagers will easily be able to relate to, and that’s awesome! The characters as well sound really well-developed, which is a definite plus.

    Definitely going to consider giving this a try. Thanks for sharing Aimee, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3

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    1. I have heard so many amazing things about Torn Away! :) As far as I know, all of her books cover sensitive topics. It was a really good book, despite the lack of feels. Thanks, Zoe! <3

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  10. Oooh, interesting! I think you basically hooked me at “this is not a romance story”. Because you know what, we need more of those. Real stories that deal with problems other than whether a girl/guy loves each other. Will definitely be checking this one out, thanks for the rec Aimee! x

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  11. I’m glad that you liked this one! I felt the same way as you, Aimee. Jennifer Brown always stuns me but this one would have to be the worst of hers, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.I love the way Brown uses beautiful topics!

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  12. It’s good to have books that don’t focus on the romance, we need more books that discuss serious issues like this one. Wonderful review, Aimee!

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  13. I don’t know if it’s my type of read, but I’d probably feeling disconnected from it too. Probably because I just don’t get it. I know it would be humiliating and all that, but I mean, you took that photo, yeah it was intended for one persons eyes only but still, once a pictures taken and sent- especially one like that, be prepared for it to get around. Yeah, this book would probably make me angry, but glad it’s not centred around romance at least! That’s got to mean something, right? Overall, sounds like an average read, and detachment really effects your rating, but at least you finished it. I’ve been meaning to read one of hers for ages, but now I really just don’t think they’re for me. ““I was not my mistakes. I was definitely not defined by anyone.” Love that quote though!

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    1. Exactly! The problem is, this really does happen in really life. And I was so, so mad and frustrated during the ‘then’ chapters, the events leading up to the photo and a bit after it. >_< But I did grow around to appreciating the book and the main character. I'm trying to be less judgmental now. I've heard this is one of her weaker works, so maybe you should still try something else by her. :)

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  14. I’ve read one Jennifer Brown book, Bitter End. It’s realistic performance was amazing and I’m entirely not surprised with her consistency.

    It’s sad to hear that you couldn’t really connect to the character – I had a similar problem with the book I read. Though I still liked it because of the issue’s it brings up and how realistically they are portrayed. I’m planning on reading more of her work, and this is definitely on my list!

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  15. I’m sorry you couldn’t connect more to the story and characters. I’ve read two of the authors other books -The Hate List and Bitter End and I thought they were both well done. I think I will still give this one a try and see how I do with it. Good to know in advance that it’s not a romance between the two, that’s what I had been expecting. Great review :)

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