Book Review: Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times For Teens

Posted on July 9, 2013 
Filed Under Anita, Book Review, The Star

By Anita Matthews

Published in Parenthots, The Star on June 10, 2013 as
Stories offer comfort to teenagers

By Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Amy Newmark
Publisher: Chicken Soup for the Soul

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times for teens

Chicken Soup For The Soul Tough Times For Teens captures 101 stories about the hardest parts of being a teenager. It is a candid display of what teenagers go through daily. The storytelling is rich and personal, peppered with heart-wrenching truth of what teenagers really go through behind the facade of pimples and puberty.

The 362-page book is a rollercoaster of emotions, ranging from delightful joy to utter grief. Anger, pride, confusion, insecurity, frustration, self-esteem issues, teen wisdom and worry jump out as I thumb through the pages. Deep down I wonder if my two teens have the same insecure thoughts of being ostracised or battle confidence or weight issues. Worse, could they be suffering from some untold, yet to be discovered, syndrome?

The book comes with an introduction by one of the editors. Amy Newmark states clearly that the book is meant for older teens as some of the content is about sexual abuse, mental illness, gender identity issues, eating disorders and untimely death.

The teenage contributors just write it as it is. No bells and whistles and as the book is aimed at teens, the experiences shared should resonate easily. Or better still, they shed light to situations they have encountered but have no understanding of why the outcome was not as expected. The book gives teens an inkling at the very least.

Mostly the collection of stories is reassurance that teenagers are not going through their struggles alone. Their peers the world over also face similar challenges and deal with curveballs that take over their being and consume their living hours until the next one comes along.

However, what was pointedly noticeable was the handful of teenage boys who contributed their stories. The stories were mostly about discovering their sexual orientation.

As a mother reading this book, I would have liked to find out what else runs through the minds of teenage boys when it comes to first love, dented egos, insecurities, fights and more. It would have given the content a richer read.

That said, the collection is testimony of a teen’s growing years. There’s no start or finish and readers can tackle a topic at a time or thumb randomly upon a whim.

There are no conclusions or solutions but situations, experiences and feelings of what teens go through. This book would help teenagers see different perspectives and maybe understand the possibilities or outcomes of varied situations. That in itself is inspiring.


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