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I bought it
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.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I adore Jennifer Brown’s writing. She always writes about such relevant issues surrounding young people and Thousand Words is no exception. This is especially because social media and the use of mobile phones is so prevalent in today’s society. Thousand Words deal with the subject of sexting. A huge issue with young people today. I think it’s important that this subject is discussed because it is something that is hugely relevant. Thousand Words looks at the impact sexting has on a person and their family when the picture/message gets into the wrong hands.
Jennifer Brown has written a really realistic plot. I recently attended a child protection workshop about child protection. I work in education, and the child protection officers actually said how much sexting is becoming an issue in schools. They had heard of a certain case recently when someone had passed a photograph of their girlfriend on to their friends. The child protection officer told us how it is actually classed as child pornography when someone is distributing inappropriate pictures of a minor, even if the minor was the person that took the photograph. It’s very scary to me that this is now an issue in schools. I work with the 5-11 year olds. It’s terrifying that this is happening at such a young age, but many pre-teens do have the latest phone nowadays.
In Thousand Words, the main character Ashleigh is drunk at a party, she is encouraged to take a naked photograph of herself to send to her boyfriend to make him wish he was there with her. Totally plausible. Ashleigh and her boyfriend suffer a nasty break up. The photograph starts to circle and it escalates. People in schools that Ashleigh doesn’t go to see the picture. Everyone is calling her a slut, whore and life becomes incredibly difficult for her.
We know what Ashleigh has done from the offset, and the action takes place in the past and present tense. We see how Ashleigh is treated at school and what an impact it makes on her parents. I never even considered how something like this could affect the whole family, but it’s true. Ashleigh’s family do suffer because of her actions. Ashleigh’s relationship with her parents also becomes very strained.
Thousands Words is a good and relevant story, but I didn’t connect with Ashleigh as much as I wanted to. I actually felt quite disconnected from her. I felt sorry for her. I wouldn’t wish what happened to her on anyone. I just didn’t feel as emotionally involved as I would’ve liked to have been. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a good read. It’s just not my favourite book from Jennifer Brown.
Would I recommend it?: