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Okay so I read alot of non fiction. I like reading a really awesome story and knowing that it’s true.  I like biographies alot.  My favorite was Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady by Florence King.  I could relate to the content obviously (ha) …but I felt that I really shared alot with this person.  I was reading it around the age of 24-25 when I was dealing with alot of my own issues and figuring out who I was.  It was so interesting to experience someone dealing with some of the same things, at the same age, but in the 1960s.

I also have to mention a book I read in grad school that had a real impact on me… A Tribe Apart:  A Journey Into the Heart of American Adolescence by Patricia Hersch.

When I was a teenager I made good grades, I hung out with alot of the “good” kids.  I went to church…  When you look at kids like that you think they are doing alright.  I lived in a home where, for the most part, if I brought home A’s no one asked any questions.  But my world was as secretive and screwed up as it could be…as was the world of most of my friends.  I won’t get into all that here but let’s just say that it’s a miracle I’m where I am today.  In A Tribe Apart, the author gains the trust of eight teenagers in middle america.  They let her in to their “tribe” and she chronicles all she learns here.  It is FASCINATING.

I think the fact that I was once a confused and troubled adolescent really helps me in counseling teens…I think I’m better able to empathize with where they are.  This books really illustrates that period in the lives of teens and does so in a very captivating way…

For three fascinating, disturbing years, writer Patricia Hersch journeyed inside a world that is as familiar as our own children and yet as alien as some exotic culture – the world of adolescence.  As a silent, attentive partner, she followed eight teenagers in the typical American town of Reston, Virginia, listening to their stories, observing their rituals, watching them fulfill their dreams and enact their tragedies.  What she found was that America’s teens have fashioned a fully defined culture that adults neither see no imagine – a culture of unprecedented freedom and baffling complexity, a culture with rules but no structure, values but no clear morality, codes but no consistency.

 Is it society itself that has created this separate teen community?  Resigned to the attitude that adolescents simply live in “a tribe apart,” adults have pulled away, relinquishing responsibility and supervision, allowing the unhealthy behaviors of teens to flourish.  Ultimately, this rift between adults and teenagers robs both generations of the meaningful connections, for everyone’s world is made richer and more challenging by having adolescents in it. 

And from Amazon:

Why do teenagers so often seem like a different species? Journalist Patricia Hersch gives a troubling answer in her fascinating, up-close-and-personal look at what it means to be a teen in today’s American high schools. Rather than interviewing “high-risk” teens (those already swept up in a cycle of drug use, gang violence, or unintended pregnancy, for example), Hersch focuses her attention on “regular kids”–adolescents who are average achievers on academic and social levels. In light of this, A Tribe Apart is all the more startling to read: Hersch’s investigative approach makes it impossible for parents to shrug off their responsibilities by saying “That’s not my kid.” This is your kid.

Hersch offers readers a fly-on-the-wall perspective as she spends three years hanging out with eight youths, submerging herself in their environment. They struggle with all the things you might remember or expect from the teen years: figuring out relationships, establishing friendships, determining what’s cool and uncool, experiencing sexual attraction. But these teens–and, as Hersch asserts, the majority of teens in America today–have much, much more piled on their plates. Having been left to their own devices by a preoccupied, self-involved, and “hands-off” generation of parents, adolescents have had to figure out their own system of ethics, morals, and values, and rely on each other for advice on such profound topics as abuse, dysfunctional parents, and sex (with all its accompanying ramifications). Adolescents are indeed “a tribe apart,” but not by choice–adult society abandons them long before they ever get the chance to rebel against it.

A wake-up call for all parents and teenagers, this essential book is also hopeful. Hersch urges us not to be afraid of teenagers–even if they have piercings and tattoos and strange hair–because what they really, truly want is a little guidance, attention, and love.

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