Leslie's Journal by Allan Stratton | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Leslie's Journal

Leslie's Journal

4.9 25
by Allan Stratton

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A young adult look at a teen world that reverberates with the emotions of a relationship gone wrong. Stratton examines an adolescent girl's deep need for affirmation as a sexually attractive being and how the need can lead to unimaginable consequences.


A young adult look at a teen world that reverberates with the emotions of a relationship gone wrong. Stratton examines an adolescent girl's deep need for affirmation as a sexually attractive being and how the need can lead to unimaginable consequences.

Editorial Reviews

Horn Book Guide
[Review of earlier edition:] Stratton captures the rhythms of teen speech, and the subject matter is treated subtly enough.
Houston Chronicle - Marvin Hoffman
[Review of earlier edition:] I came to appreciate Stratton's ability to capture the way a girl like Leslie might succumb to a relationship the reader knows from the get-go is bad news ... This book will cause any parent of young daughters to lose sleep.
Marvin Hoffman
This book will cause any parent of young daughters to lose sleep.
—Houston Chronicle, March 11, 2001
Judy Sasges
An appealing protagonist ... her problems are real ... her emotions ring true.
For Leslie, trying to survive tenth grade is a constant struggle. Coping with divorced parents, trying to hold on to a best friend who seems to be growing away from her, feeling unpopular at school—all these problems make Leslie bitter and frustrated. She hides her hurt with "inappropriate" clothes and smart remarks. Then she meets Jason, the mysterious new boy in school. Handsome and poised, he seems the perfect candidate to be Leslie's first boyfriend. Leslie is thrilled with the attention, but when Jason at first is interested only in sex and then begins pushing her around, the thrill turns to confusion. Is it love to want to hurt someone with words and fists? Is it love to threaten to blackmail someone with photographs? The more Leslie learns about Jason, the more frightened she becomes. She realizes that she must stand up for herself and the other young women abused by Jason. When her journal describing Jason's abuse is discovered by one of her teachers, Leslie finds the courage to testify against Jason in court. Leslie's Journal reads more like a novel than a teenager's journal, but the format will not deter readers, who are sure to find Leslie an appealing protagonist. Her problems are real, and although Leslie seems very naive for a fifteen-year-old, her emotions ring true. Date rape and abuse are relevant topics for many teen readers. The cover for the paperback edition is compelling. Set in Canada, this first novel by an award-winning playwright offers hope that by placing trust in friends, adults, and one's own sense of right and wrong, justice will win. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M J S (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Annick Press/Firefly, 176p, Trade pb. Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer: Judy Sasges VOYA, February 2001 (Vol. 23, No.6)
Written in first person, this somewhat dark novel will have wide appeal to the older teen audience but is more suited to public library collections. Leslie, in grade nine going into grade 10, is in desperate need of attention. She is constantly in trouble in school and her home life is not much better. She seems angry at the world and deals with her feelings by acting out and keeping a journal for her English class with the assurance that no one will read her private thoughts. Enter Jason McCready, a totally cool boy who gives her a wink the first time they bump into each other. Soon Jason and Leslie are an item and she is now the envy of her classmates. But on their first date Jason does not take Leslie to the movies like he said he was going to do. Instead he takes her home and gets her drunk. Suddenly Jason is pulling her dress back on, giving her money, putting her in a cab and telling her to leave because his parents are on their way home. It isn't until later that Leslie realizes what happened but by then it's too late; Jason has full control of Leslie's life. One minute Jason is wonderful and caring; the next he is threatening and abusive. Then her English teacher gets ill and the substitute reads all the private journals detailing what Jason has done to her, and Leslie's world shatters. In the end Leslie has to make some tough decisions about herself and her life and what it means to stand up for yourself. KLIATT Codes: S—Recommended for senior high school students. 2000, Firefly/Annick Press, 196p, 19cm, $8.95. Ages 16 to 18. Reviewer: Jamie Lyn Weaver; YA Libn., Geneva P.L., Geneva, IL January 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 1)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-This could be the Go Ask Alice (Avon, 1976) of this millennium. In a journal written for an English assignment, 10th-grade Leslie is completely honest; after all, Ms. Graham has promised never to read her students' work and to keep it in a locked cabinet. The language of this often irritating, often heartbreakingly naive young girl is right on target. Her life could be straight off the WB network; she has a single mom whom she loves but can't communicate with; a dad who recently moved in with his girlfriend; and a wild older boyfriend with whom she is totally obsessed. Fortunately, she has Katie, a steadfast friend who listens to her and believes in her. The relationship with Jason goes bad early on; he gets her drunk, rapes her, and takes Polaroid pictures of her. He is every parents' nightmare: insufferably polite up-front and rich enough to buy his way out of trouble. His behavior becomes increasingly abusive. When Leslie tries to break up with him, he stalks and threatens her. A new English teacher reads the diary and brings it to the attention of the principal, who takes Jason's side. Leslie fears for her life and runs away. This cautionary tale is not easy to read; few of the characters are likable. Most of the adults seem beset with their own personal problems. However, Leslie's voice demands to be heard and readers may learn to avoid her pitfalls. Gripping reading for a mature audience.-Marilyn Payne Phillips, University City Public Library, MO Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Canadian Materials - Carole Marion
Leslie's Journal is a realistic and thought-provoking glimpse into the mind of a frightened and desperate teenage girl. The writing style reflects Leslie's thoughts and can, in turn, be condescending, derogatory, profane and anti-establishment. Teens will relate to her struggle for independence and her cry for help. This is an exemplary first young adult novel for actor and playwright Allan Stratton.... It fills a gap in the market for books that deal with the dark side of relationships. It is a story of hope and conviction, and one that could give inner strength to any reader suffering from similar circumstances. Recommended.

Product Details

Annick Press, Limited
Publication date:
Edition description:
Updated edition
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
12 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

It's only the first week and already school sucks. I've got Ms. Graham again for English.

Today she said every class is going to start with fifteen minutes of journal writing, which is what we're doing now. This is supposed to train us to "reflect freely on our personal experiences." Oh yeah? It's to give her fifteen minutes with nothing to do.

Also, since our journals will be about personal feelings, she says she won't read them. "Your journal is just for you. So write, write, write. As with everything in this world, you'll get out of it what you put into it." According to her, this is a "Life Lesson." What it really is is an excuse for her to get out of marking.

A year of journals! Can I scream yet? It's so boring I keep forgetting to breathe. And each day when it's over she's going to collect them and lock them up in her filing cabinet, like we're a bunch of babies who'll lose them or something.

But okay. Journals beat having her teach. Last year, she either read aloud to us or we read aloud to her, then she'd stop and ask us stupid questions about what we'd just heard. This last part was hilarious, because nobody ever gave her an answer. We just stared up at her like we were dead and watched her eyes go funny. No kidding, her eyes were like gerbils. They darted around desperate for a hand to pop in the air till the silence got so bad she couldn't stand it anymore and blurted the answer herself.

Normal teachers would figure if students are passed out, maybe they should do something. LIKE, HELLO, MAYBE STOP ASKING DUMB QUESTIONS! But not Ms. Graham. She went from dumb to dumber. There'd be red patches on her neck and she'd be sweating and wiping the sweat from her hands to her dress. It was disgusting.

That's when she'd tell us to read the next chapter silently and answer the questions on handouts she'd pass around for homework. Which of course we never did. We pretended we hadn't heard her and the handouts didn't exist. At the end of class, we'd crumple them into balls and toss them in the general direction of the wastebasket. It's like, whole rain forests got clear-cut so Ms. Graham could stuff her filing cabinet with handouts that all ended up in the garbage.

Then, pretty soon, we pretended Ms. Graham didn't exist either. We'd come in, put our heads on our desks and go to sleep. Which was fine by her, I guess, because at least if we were sleeping we weren't throwing chalk. Or handouts.

It was sooo painful.

Near the end of the year, she went Missing in Action. They said she was away with chronic bronchitis, but we figured she was having a breakdown. Over the summer the story went around that she'd knocked over a shelf of light fixtures at Wal-Mart and ended up under a pile of lampshades babbling hysterically while trying to strangle herself with an electric cord till the ambulance came and hauled her off in a straitjacket.

Well, that's the rumor. And even if it isn't true, it should be, because obviously she's back for more and she's nutty as ever. Right now she's floating around with this vague look, smelling kind of stale in a pale gray billowy thing. She looks like a human dustball. Wait. She's just come to rest in front of the window. She's looking out. Maybe she's thinking of jumping.

It's kind of sad, really. I mean, if she wasn't a teacher, I'd feel sorry for her. Once upon a time she was somebody's baby, playing patty-cakes and having everybody kissing her and saying she was a cutie. Then she grew up. I picture her all alone in some tiny apartment, surrounded by cats and stacks of unmarked assignments, praying that tomorrow will be better. And it never is.

Poor Ms. Graham. It's not like she wants to be boring. That's why I almost feel guilty when we torture her. Who we should torture -- really, really torture, with hot coals and a pair of hedge clippers -- is Nicky Wicks. He has short greasy hair, cystic acne and a squishy tongue he likes to stick in girls' ears for a joke. He also has a dent in his forehead from where somebody hit him with a shovel when he was little. Too bad they didn't hit harder.

Nicky is the grossest pig in the school, and in this school there's a lot of competition. He only has one redeeming feature. If you want to lose weight, think about making out with him. You won't be able to eat for a week.

Anyway, Nicky "Pus-head" Wicks worked it so he sits one seat ahead of me in three separate classes. What's worse, he apparently thinks it is majorly funny to stick a couple of pencils up his nose and pretend to be a walrus.
The real reason he does this is to have an excuse to let his pencils fall on the floor so he can bend down to pick them up and look up my skirt while he's at it.

Today I got my revenge. I waited till lunch, when I knew he'd be in the cafeteria with lots of people all around. Then I marched up to his table and said in a big loud voice, "Hey, Pus-head, you look up my skirt one more time and I'll personally pop your zits with my nail file!"

There was this roar of laughter, hooting and footstomping. Nicky was so embarrassed, I thought his cysts would explode. As for me, I just snapped my fingers and diva-ed my way to the parking lot for a smoke.

That's where I met the vice-principal, Mr. Manley, out on a little narc duty. "I want to see you in my office, young lady."

Sorry, journal, according to Ms. Graham it's time for you to go into the filing cabinet. Tomorrow, I'll tell you what happened with the Nazi.

P.S. Dear Ms. Graham: You promised our journals were going to be private. So in case you're secretly reading this to get some cheap thrills, you are nothing but a crazy perverted liar, and it's not my fault if it sends you over the edge.


Meet the Author

Allan Stratton is an award-winning and internationally published and produced novelist and playwright. His novel, Chanda's Secrets, is a Michael L. Printz Honor Book. He lives in Toronto.

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