Thursday, June 9, 2011

Book Review and Life Application



Last summer, I asked Facebook friends for reading suggestions. One of my friends stated, "Anything by Kristin Hannah."  I had never heard of Kristin Hannah but I was game for any suggestions so I rented several of her books from the library.

She is addictive. After reading one story rather quickly, I suggested her to my Mom. We are both now reading her every word.

Kristin Hannah took me on an emotional roller-coaster as I read the book, Firefly Lane. I actually started reading it right after my diagnosis. Little did I know that the book touched on cancer. But that roller-coaster ride was minimal compared to the ride I went on with her new book, Night Road.

Since I work with children in foster care, I am such a sucker for a story with a foster child in it. Night Road is about a girl who has been in and out of foster care for years as her mother struggles with addiction. Finally, her social workers find her a long-lost relatives who opens her home to this emotionally hurt teenager. In this home, she meets a girl, Mia,  from a super rich, intact, loving family. Mia may have everything but friends. Her twin brother is super popular and well liked but Mia is socially awkward, has acne, and does not really fit in. (Sounds like most of the people I knew at age 14!) The two girls meet at become immediate best friends!

As life is about to take off for the three main characters in this book, tragedy strikes. The rest of the book deals with how each character reacts and deals with the tragedy.

I am not a book spoiler...my own BFF has never finished reading Harry Potter and I have yet to say a word about the ending! But I will say, this book deals a lot with teen drinking and responsibilities teenagers can/must take. I have been a crying sobbing mess for three days as I read this book.

My own son is 14 years old and I know too well, that my days of dealing with these issues are coming. He will be a freshman in high school in August. I do not think I am naive about teen drinking. I as a parent, like I am sure my parents did, would like to see him not drink. But then the part of me that remembers my own teen years, I have to ask, is that realistic?

There are so many other things I consider now that I have never considered before. Kids have prescription  pill parties now. They bring whatever drugs they can find/have access to, put them in a big bowl and share.  People lace cigarettes or marijuana with other drugs. An inexperienced teen might think they are only smoking pot and come to realize later, it was laced with PCP. People put drugs in drinks when you turn your head. It is dangerous out there. (As I type this, I sound a lot like Jude, the mother in Night Road!!)

Reading this book, bringing these things to the front of my mind, told me it was time to start educating my son. Last night, as the boy was getting ready for bed and I am on the couch sniffling while finishing Night Road, I stole a moment to talk to him about teen drinking. We set expectations out but also made a back up plan. I do not want him drinking. I do not want him using drugs. I do not want him to think it is okay to try a prescription pill just beacuse it is okay for someone else to take. But, if he finds himself in the situation where he has made different choices, he is to never get into a car with someone who has been using. Nor is he ever allowed to drive if he has been using. I promised to come and pick him up, no questions asked. Now, being realistic, I know I will be mad. But I told him, I would rather he and I deal with my anger than me have to deal with his or someone elses deceased body. 

This is serious stuff.  Reality TV has helped bring the idea of partying and how cool it is to be a partier to our homes. I see what he is watching. I KNOW what I am watching. Reality TV does a great job of showing how much fun Snooky had at the club but do they show the legal consequences for her behaviors? 

If you are parenting a teen or will be soon, make plans to have these conversations with your child. And read Night Road by Kristin Hannah. Both of these are good things, as Martha would say.

I also realize I am new to this parenting a teen thing. Any advice out there? How did you handle the teens/drinking issue?

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