Review Detail

4.2 4
Young Adult Fiction 4763
Hard-hitting look at tough issues
Overall rating
Writing Style
In my opinion, Jennifer Brown is one of the strongest writers of realistic fiction the YA world has. She tackles tough issues straight-on, remains objective throughout her portrayal of real life, yet manages to remain compassionate and gently honest. Her books are always excellent, and Thousand Words, her latest, is very good.

Sexting, though not something I’ve personally had experience with, is something very relevant to teenagers today. I’ve never read a book about it before, or really heard anything about it aside from an article I read in Seventeen (I think that’s where it was, anyway). But yeah. One of my favorite things about Brown is that she tends to write about real-life problems that haven’t been explored so much in fiction (school shootings, living with OCD, sexting), and then taking those issues and applying them to authentic characters in situations. I can honestly say that there’s not another YA author out there, that I’ve found, who’s able to deliver the same punch in the emotional gut. Jennifer Brown’s words and her honesty are extremely powerful.

Thousand Words is about Ashleigh, who sends a naked picture of herself to her boyfriend, and then her boyfriend sends it around his college campus and Ashleigh’s high school campus. In the end, both are charged with distributing child pornography, which for Ashleigh, is a really tough blow. Though the book deals a little with the lead-up to her conviction, most of Thousand Words is about the consequences of that naked picture, not only for Ashley, but for her parents and friends and community.

This book attempts to have a really wide scope, covering different aspects of the sexting issue and showing all sides of the issue. Unfortunately, the book is very short (especially compared to Brown’s previous novels), so I think that this only scratched the surface of its potential. Thousand Words offers a very basic overhead view of Ashleigh’s problems, but I think it lacked some of the depth I tend to associate with this author. In the end I was left wanting more.

On the other hand, the material Brown did provide was very excellent. Ashleigh’s parents weren’t perfect people, but they reacted in realistic ways to the embarrassment their daughter caused them, all while trying to give her the support she needed. Ashleigh’s best friend, Vonnie, abandoned her when things got tough, not because she was a bad person, but because she didn’t know how to handle the attention she was getting. This book does an excellent job in showing the varying responses from community members to the sexting issue. Though, again, I felt like this book didn’t delve as deep into the characters as it could have, which was certainly a disappointment.

Though it’s not my favorite Jennifer Brown novel, Thousand Words is still a great look at a serious, devastating experience. I think my biggest complaint is that this book wasn’t longer and more fleshed out, which in the long run isn’t a very major issue. I definitely recommend this to fans of the genre, or those interested in books on sexting.
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