Title: Thousand Words
Author: Jennifer Brown
Release date: May 21, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown
Reading level: YA
Challenge: YA Contemporary
Challenge: YA Contemporary
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.
Jennifer Brown has done it again! I completely adored her debut novel, Hate List, and Thousand Words seemed like it would be just as powerful and I was right. This book will definitely make you think and you will continue thinking long after you finish it.
Thousand Words is told in alternating chapters; the present (community service) and the past (before the photo and right after.) This format really helped move the story along. It's pretty obvious from the summary what exactly happened but there's still enough suspense about what went down to keep readers intrigued. I wanted to know every little detail about how Ashleigh got to where she was and I wasn't willing to stop reading until I knew it all. It's not often that I can read straight through a contemporary novel but Thousand Words is completely unputdownable.
The characters make this book. Ashleigh has her flaws (obviously) but she's a character that you can't help but relate to. She's your typical high schooler. She does something stupid and she ends up paying for it. I'm sure everyone has been in her place (just maybe not on such a massive scale.) Throughout the book my emotions for Ashleigh were all over the place. There were times I wanted to hug her, times I wanted to slap her, and times when I just wanted to jump up and down and cheer for her. She was smart (although it sometimes didn't seem that way), she was funny (in her own way), she was good at heart, but she was also a little clingy, a little whiny, and she didn't always put the blame where it really should have been. Like I said, she was flawed but that's what made me love her. Then there was her friend Vonnie. Vonnie played a big role in the chapters that take place in the past but not so much the present. I was really curious as to what happened with their relationship. Sure, Vonnie wasn't the best friend, but she wasn't the worst either. She just always wanted to please everyone and it kind of screwed things up. Then there's Mack, the one person who didn't look at the photo of Ashleigh, even though he got it. Mack is a character you can't help but love. He's definitely odd and rather shy but once you start to see what he's really like, you realize how great he is. Oh and one last mention; Ashleigh's parents. Parents aren't always present in YA books but Ashleigh's definitely were. They played a huge role in her life. They were always there for her even in tough times. There were a few times when I thought they were being rather callous but I can't imagine how it would feel to be in their place. Even though there were those moments, they clearly never stopped loving Ashleigh.
Also, one thing I want to mention: there is no romance in Thousand Words. You see glimpses of Ashleigh's relationship with Kaleb in the chapters that take place in the past but that's it. Mack is truly just a friend for Ashleigh which is what she really needed. Romance would have been really out of place in Thousand Words and I'm glad that it wasn't added in. And this means a lot coming from me because I normally can't stand books without romance.
I, of course, have to touch on the topic of sexting in this review. The story revolves around it. However, never once did I feel like this was a preachy story. Jennifer Brown was very informative in Thousand Words but she never once made it seem like she was preaching for or against sexting. I was unsure how the whole topic would be handled and in the end, I was really happy with how Jennifer Brown portrayed it. It's such a relevant topic so I'm glad to see that a young adult book can portray it so realistically and informatively.
Overall, Thousand Words is a must read for everyone! I can't stress that enough. If you haven't read anything by Jennifer Brown yet, get on that!
What others have to say about Thousand Words:
Chick Loves Lit's review: "Brown paints a very emotional and charged picture through Ashleigh’s story."
Shelves of Books Blog's review: "This was a great read which will hit home with a lot of readers."
Hate List by Jennifer Brown