Laura and Tom McNeal
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"To contemporary teens, Crushed may well be like looking in a mirror. And, as with looking in a mirror, young readers may not be satisfied with what they see."
Somewhere between those ancient days when I was in high school and now, Young Adult books began to tackle topics that really matter to teens. You know: popularity (or lack thereof), sex , gossip, truth and lies, bullies, grades, looks, money, college, and, perhaps most important, when (and why) to say yes and when to say no.|
Husband-and-wife Laura and Tom McNeal confront all of these problems head-on in their latest effort. If that sounds like a big bite to chew, it is: Their fictitious Finger Lakes Jemison High is brimming with kids who spend half their time worrying about what everyone else thinks of them and the other half endlessly discussing what they think of everyone else.
Audrey Reed and her two best friends, transfers from a small private school, are overwhelmed by all of this, until Audrey becomes the focus of the very handsome new boy who sits behind her in Physics. Suddenly, she’s being wined and dined in sophisticated style, kissin’ and hopin’, and finally, putting even more on the line. But, of course, the new boy may not be the perfect dreamboat he seems.
At the same time, a quiet boy (whose parents are the only adults in the book who aren’t as bad as their kids) gathers his nerve in order to talk to Audrey. Alas, Audrey doesn’t merely brush him off, she hands him over to the school bully when the going gets tough. And then there’s Audrey’s widowed father, who seems to be home far more often than he used to; and her beloved housekeeper’s extended leave of absence to help a sick sister in her German homeland. Finally, add in a very nasty newsletter that reams not only students but faculty with its not-so-bon mots, and you have a high school I’m glad I never attended.
And yet, somehow, these many threads get tied by book’s end. I kept asking myself if it’s something I would have read –- and liked –- in high school, but without a genre devoted exclusively to us, my friends and I were reading adult fiction. Or perhaps, adult fiction simply had more to offer us. To contemporary teens, Crushed may well be like looking in a mirror. And, as with looking in a mirror, young readers may not be satisfied with what they see.
Reviewer: Lisa Lenard-Cook