Thirty-five essays encourage young readers to break the rules.
“Be tougher, be thinner, be smarter, be sexier, be funnier, be quieter, be louder, be better dressed, be more aware of what’s cool, be better at: everything.” Young people growing up awash in electronic media and the images and lifestyles they sell are often easy victims, never realizing the extent to which they are being brainwashed. Add to that, their fellow students are conforming to the same societal expectations and preying on those who are too different. Young people are in danger, as recent suicide statistics suggest. In this collection, 35 writers encourage readers to stop obeying the voices telling them how to think, dress, act and believe. In “Don’t Get Fat,” Lisa Burstein writes about leaving behind the “warped, sick, eating-disordered” frame of mind fed by a voice that is “the mayor of crazy-town.” In “Be Clean!” Gary D. Schmidt tells of rejecting the mind control of a youth pastor trying to save his soul. The best writers here couch their lessons in stories, but others lecture, and some sound like inspirational graduation speeches. After a whole volume of such essays, the mantra “Break These Rules” itself begins to sound like a rule to question.
A well-meaning but uneven collection. (about the contributors) (Essays. 12 & up)