Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown
published on May 21st 2013 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers
contemporary | romance
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.
“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.
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.
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.