Hear These Voices: Youth at the Edge of the Millenium
Teenagers are often the forgotten people; with voices that never get heard. Or, we hear about them as the "problem makers" in the news. Very seldom do we get to hear from them in their own words.
Anthony Allison's 1999 book, Hear These Voices: Youth at the Edge of the Millenium, combines the words of fifteen different teenagers, stark black and white photographs of their world, and the thoughts of family, friends and caseworkers.
Their stories are often, by turns, scary and heartbreaking. Muay, a 14 year old in Thailand, was sold to a brothel when she was 10. Daisy, a 19 year old gay male, recently learned he is HIV positive. Carrie, a 17 year old, lived for years bouncing between the streets and foster homes.
But the one thing all their stories have in common, besides personal tragedy, is a sense of hope. These are not stories of "Generation X" angst or of directionless teenage rage. They are stories of how each individual has worked at overcoming everything that has been thrown at them. You can tell that they believe in themselves, even though others may not believe in them.
They are all teenagers "at risk." That's a label that I think could apply to nearly any person. We are all at risk--some of us simply the risk of not seeing what is around us and not taking responsibility.
As the preface of the book says, "It took Anthony Allison more than five years to make this book, and it might take you more than five hours to read it. But neither five hours nor five years is nearly enough time to capture all the promise, purpose, and potential of an individual life: the only way to know what a life can hold is to live it, all the way through."
Do you have some thoughts on this book or the situation of teenagers today? Take it to the forum.