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Book Review

"The Teenager's Guide to the Real World"

    "a must purchase for all libraries"

[Book review reprinted from KLIATT (November 1997), a newsletter for librarians and teachers.]

This book really hits a kid where it hurts. Chapter three, entitled "Adults Rule the World," begins with a bar chart illustrating population data from The 1995 World Almanac. It clearly shows that adults make up 70% of the population, teens ages 13-19 only 10%, and children 0-12 only 20%. Teens are clearly in the minority, even though they think that they are in the majority. In chapter four, "You Can Ignore Your Peers," Brain goes on to say that because teens are in the clear minority, teens must get to know the people in power (the ones with all the money and control): adults. He encourages teens to find situations where adults get together and join a group, such as a political campaign, community organization, church, Rotary Club, or Jaycees. Ask about their jobs. Make friends with teachers. Acquire a mentor. Ask questions. He illustrates nicely why a peer's opinions will not matter once you get out of high school.

Brain encourages teens to get on the path to an enjoyable job. To start the process, act on what you like. (Like movies? Make one; Like surfing the web? Build a web site; Like music? Form a rock group. Do something.) Become an expert in an area. Do not make excuses. Failure is part of success. The section on attitudes and values is great, too. "You are in total control of your attitude and your values." Confidence, happiness, appearance, common sense are all part of what a teen can control. "Virtue triumphs over evil" illustrates ways to form a moral framework. Mistakes will ruin your life (drugs, getting pregnant, dropping out of high school, starting a criminal record, running away from home, and so on). The fact about success is that it isn't a reaction, but a strategic plan that begins with taking pride in what you produce. Controlling anger is part of the plan, along with listening, taking responsibility, knowledge.

The book is part gospel, part motivational coach, part "tough love." There are clear concise examples supplemented with bracketed highlights. This no-nonsense, easy-to-understand guide takes its message to where the teen lives. Several good books are cited along the way; they include such tried and true standbys as The Road Less Traveled and When Bad Things Happen to Good People, sprinkled with relative newcomers such as Dr. Laura Schlessinger's How Could You Do That? And John Gray's Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. An excellent index and supplemental web site round out the offering. This is a must purchase for all libraries.

Rita M. Fontinha, Libn., Foxboro H.S., Foxboro, MA

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