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Magan: Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown

Book Cover for Thousand Words by Jennifer BrownThousand Words by Jennifer Brown ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: May 21, 2013
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 282
Target audience: Mature Young Adult
Keywords: realistic contemporary fiction, sexting, community service, break-up
Format read: ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!)

Summary: Ashleigh’s boyfriend, Kaleb, spreads a nude photograph she privately sent him after their break-up. Parents are infuriated by the photograph and provoke the school administrators to take action. Suspension from school isn’t enough; she’s arrested and sentenced to sixty hours of community service for distributing child pornography.

One text. One text has ruined Ashleigh’s life.

After about a year together, Ashleigh and Kaleb would soon face their greatest challenge — he would be leaving for college. Ashleigh wants to soak up every minute with Kaleb before he leaves, but he’s focused on spending time with his boys, and playing baseball every chance they get because they’ll be spread throughout the country at different schools.

Fed up with his abandonment, Ashleigh drunkenly confides in her friends, Vonnie and Rachel. They recommend she capture his attention by texting him a nude photo. How could he possibly ignore Ashleigh after that?

Fast-forward through the details of Kaleb’s departure and Ashleigh’s insecurity to their ugly, vengeful breakup. One thing leads to another, but Ashleigh never expected Kaleb to send out a mass text of her nude photo to every one of his contacts. The text is forwarded and shared and Ashleigh’s name and contact information are added to the photograph. Soon, Ashleigh finds herself in the middle of a sexting scandal that has her school in an uproar and she’s in trouble for distributing child pornography.

She faces sixty hours of community service as her court ordered sentence. She’s all alone — her relationship long over, friendships on the brink of destruction, she’s bullied, and her father’s superintendent job could be terminated. One seemingly innocent text has ruined Ashleigh’s clean record and reputation.

Thousand Words is the first experience reading Jennifer Brown. I’ve heard praises for her work by so many of my book-loving friends, and thankfully, can now join the choir to spread the word. Brown tackles a relevant and extremely difficult topic. Was Ashleigh wrong for sending the photo? Should she have gotten in trouble? What are the repercussions for Kaleb sharing the photo? There are so many complexities that make a resolution darn near impossible, but Brown explores each sector so well. Ashleigh goes through the ups and downs of feeling like she’d been pressured into sending the photograph, the anger at Kaleb for not being the upstanding guy she thought he was, and the devastation of realizing that she was as guilty as anyone else. If she hadn’t sent the text, none of this would have ever happened. Hindsight is 20/20, right?

Brown’s Thousand Words tells the very realistic tale of a situation that’s happening across the country. Laws are currently being revised in multiple states to tackle this situation. Ashleigh’s story isn’t easy to read — it’s uncomfortable and frustrating. I was angered by Ashleigh’s attitude and reluctance to accept responsibility for the part she played. She could be very “woe is me” and didn’t always have me convinced she was actually going to learn anything from the situation, other than pointing fingers at everyone else. (But, thankfully, a boy named Mack teaches her a lot about what it is to truly lose everything.) While Thousand Words isn’t a happy, feel-good read, Brown’s writing is spot-on. It’s beyond necessary for her story to be read, shared, and discussed.

Since I’m very much a Jennifer Brown newbie, can you tell me which of her books to read next?

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March 24, 2014 - 7:32 pm

Shree Vella - I havent read any Jennifer Brown, but thanks so much for your post. Im going to try her out! 🙂

May 29, 2013 - 12:05 pm

Alexa Y. - I’m certainly looking forward to reading this book! I just recently read PERFECT ESCAPE, and loved the way that Brown was able to tell her story. Her characters were really well-written, and the story was simple but still very meaningful. I loved it, and would highly recommend it!

May 24, 2013 - 3:09 am

Laura @ the Booksmartie - Hi there! Here’s another Jennifer Brown newbie *waves excitedly*!! Well, not…a newbie, exactly, as I still haven’t read anything by her – yet! I really want to, though. You make this book sound really, really good and interesting, but I think I’d like to read another one of hers first -just since I don’t really feel attracted to the topic…Hate List sounds like a good novel, as well, I think!

May 23, 2013 - 6:56 pm

Kelly - I love how many issues this explores! You’re so right about this being such a hot button issue right now, with the amount of teens sexting without realizing what the consequences might be if their nudies were to end up in the wrong hands. High school is hard enough without a naked photo of yourself circulating for everyone and their dog to see!

May 23, 2013 - 6:31 am

Lori - I’m so happy to hear that you loved this one! I really, really loved Hate List, but then Bitter End fell flat for me. I really need to give her others a try. This sounds like a good place to start.

May 22, 2013 - 11:43 pm

Bookworm1858 - I think this topic is so timely and I hope it opens up some discussion with young people (and not so young people) who seem to increasingly be caught up in situations like that. Still can’t believe that Ashleigh is the one given community service!

May 22, 2013 - 8:03 pm

Rachel - Oh yay! This is the first review I’ve read for this book and I’m happy to hear that you liked it! I’m looking forward to reading this one because of it’s extreme relevancy, as well as the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever read a book on this topic before. I’ve read one novel by Jennifer in the past and loved it, so I definitely have high hopes for this one!

May 22, 2013 - 7:43 pm

Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages - I’ve been excited for this one, glad to hear you think it’s worth picking up!

May 22, 2013 - 3:25 pm

Holly (Bookish Musings) - I’ve been curious about this book! I’ve never read anything by Jennifer Brown either but I have heard she’s a great author! I’m glad you enjoyed Thousand Words! I’m going to have to check this book out 🙂 Thanks for the great review!

May 22, 2013 - 1:53 pm

Hollie @ Music, Books and Tea - I’ve heard that Jennifer Brown is an incredible author, so I’m happy to see you enjoyed this book. I definitely need to check out some of her work, I’ve heard Hate List is especially good. Fantastic review!

May 22, 2013 - 10:57 am

Andrea @Cozy Up With A Good Read - Wow, I’ve seen this book around a few times, I think it sounds like such an amazing book. Issue books really have such a strong message. This is one I definitely want to read, it sounds like Jennifer Brown is an amazing writer. Thanks for the review!

May 22, 2013 - 9:21 am

The Crazy Bookworm - I loved this one! Jennifer Brown can do no wrong! Great review 🙂

I would definitely recommend you check out Hate List next!

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