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The Struggle to Be Strong: True Stories by Teens about Overcoming Tough Times
     

The Struggle to Be Strong: True Stories by Teens about Overcoming Tough Times

by Sybil Wolin (Editor)
 

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Jamel loses his friends to marijuana; Artiqua dates a boy of another race despite her family’s opposition. Youniqiue was abandoned by her mother; Charlene is raising her brothers and sisters because their mother is addicted to drugs; Craig is gay and worried about coming out.

All of these teens have more than their share of troubles. And all have the

Overview


Jamel loses his friends to marijuana; Artiqua dates a boy of another race despite her family’s opposition. Youniqiue was abandoned by her mother; Charlene is raising her brothers and sisters because their mother is addicted to drugs; Craig is gay and worried about coming out.

All of these teens have more than their share of troubles. And all have the resiliency needed to face them, live through them, and move forward with courage, confidence, and hope.

In 30 first-person accounts, teens tell how they overcame major life obstacles. Many aren’t the everyday problems most kids encounter, which makes their stories especially compelling—and their successes especially inspiring.

As teens read The Struggle to Be Strong, they discover they’re not alone in facing life’s difficulties. They learn about seven resiliencies—insight, independence, relationships, initiative, creativity, humor, and morality—that everyone needs to survive and thrive in even the toughest times. Vivid, articulate, and candid, this book will motivate readers of all ages to build the skills and strengths they need to triumph over adversity.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Engaging, empowering testimony to today’s teens struggling to make something of themselves.” —Voice of Youth Advocates

 “Easy to read and often inspiring.” —School Library Journal

 “An important resource.” —Youthworker

Parent's Guide Award

Parent Council®  Selection

VOYA
This self-help book for teens is an engaging, empowering testimony to today's teens struggling to make something of themselves. The structure of the book is based on seven resiliencies: insight, independence, relationships, initiative, creativity, humor, and morality. Each chapter defines the resiliency and its importance, adding teen-authored essays to illustrate the topics and to highlight the importance of struggling to stay strong. With the help of guided questions at the end of each essay, readers are encouraged to think about and apply the resiliencies to everyday life. Many of the teen writers are veterans of foster care and dysfunctional home lives. They write about how it feels to be an outsider; the anguish of being rejected by a parent; ways to control anger; helping a seriously ill friend; deciding to come out; and many more issues relevant to teenagers. Short and to the point, the essays are told in a conversational style that will appeal to the audience. Readers who appreciate Janet Bode's books and Gutsy Girls: Young Women Who Dare by Tina Schwager and Michele Schuerger (Free Spirit, 1999/VOYA February 2000) will want to browse this title. Its tone is comforting, encouraging readers to feel that survival is possible and desirable, even under tough conditions. The format is nonthreatening and will appeal to those who might not normally choose to read. As one contributor, Lenny Jones, writes, "Things always get better. Maybe not today, tomorrow, or even the next day, but they will... There's always a way out of 'no way out.' " Glossary. Index. Illus. Further Reading. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YAappeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Free Spirit, 182p, $14.95 Trade pb. Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer: Judy Sasges

SOURCE: VOYA, October 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 4)

KLIATT
Plenty of books try to give teens advice about issues in their life—getting along with parents, staying in school, handling peer pressure and the like—and how to deal with them. However, The Struggle To Be Strong takes a different tack. Al Desetta, an editor of this book, works with Youth Communication, an "organization that teaches writing, journalism and leadership skills to inner city teens." Sybil Wolin, the other editor of this book, is co-director of Project Resilience, "a private initiative that trains professionals to help youth and adults overcome hardship." The editors intersperse the stories in this volume with what they term "The Seven Resiliencies"—insight, independence, relationships, initiative, creativity, humor, and morality. These resiliencies are later further defined in the text and broken down into language that YAs can understand. Teen authors, most of whom were living in or have had experience with foster care, contributed all of the stories in this collection. However, the themes explored in this work are universal. One writer discusses the prejudice she encounters in an interracial relationship. Another talks about lessons learned from coping with a drug-addicted parent. Yet others discuss the effects of peer pressure, popularity, and the pressure to be thin. The stories are short, less than three pages in length, and use the language that teens would use, both elements that would attract teen readers. The editors also include features dear to the hearts of librarians, namely a guide to topics and a glossary of unfamiliar words. For those who are curious, after each story the authors include a brief statement noting the age of the writer when thestory was written, and also any further information about the teen. This title explores a world that is the other side of the Tasteberries and Chicken Soup for the Soul series. A strong purchase for libraries whose collections include "true life" stories aimed at teens. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2000, Free Spirit, 177p, 23cm, 99-056600, $14.95. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Tricia Finch; Youth Scvs. Mgr., North Port P.L., North Port, FL, July 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 4)
Children's Literature
From the body of work produced during a set of writers' workshops in New York City, editors Desetta and Wolin have pulled together an inspirational collection of essays about the real life experiences of teens growing up. Growing up is not always easy; it means being dependent upon others for food and shelter, craving love and respect, and struggling to know oneself and others honestly. These pieces show what it takes to be resilient, to survive—and to overcome—tough times during youth. The editors have identified groups of essays according to seven characteristics of resilience—insight, independence, relationships, initiative, creativity, humor, and morality. Teen essayists explore a variety of experiences that tested their inner strength, such as problems in relationships with drug-addicted parents, living with other youth in foster care, and having problems in school. Throughout this work, readers are encouraged to reflect upon their own strengths and to develop strategies for overcoming their own tough times. Hopefully, this message will resonate with many youth. 2000, Free Spirit, $14.95. Ages 12 to Adult. Reviewer: Heidi Green
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-A self-help book written predominately by African-American, Latino, and Asian teens who have attended writers' workshops sponsored by Youth Communication, a nonprofit organization in New York City. Short entries are grouped together into seven categories that the editors call "resiliencies." Categories are: "Insight," "Independence," "Relationships," "Initiative," "Creativity," "Humor," and "Morality." The young people talk about their experiences with drug-addicted, alcoholic, or abusive parents; friends or parents with AIDS; school problems; homosexuality; and foster care. Throughout the book, teens are encouraged to be a part of the solutions and emerge victorious from hardships in life, rather than remaining victims. Thought-provoking questions end each piece, and a brief note tells a little about its author. The articles were first published in New Youth Connections or Foster Care Youth United. Easy to read and often inspiring, these selections will fill a need for many teens, including reluctant readers.-Kim Harris, Newman Riga Library, Churchville, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781575420790
Publisher:
Free Spirit Publishing, Inc.
Publication date:
01/15/2000
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
244,834
Product dimensions:
6.05(w) x 9.05(h) x 0.36(d)
Lexile:
830L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Meet the Author


Al Desetta, M.A., is an editor at Youth Communication, a New York-based nonprofit organization that teaches writing, journalism, and leadership skills to inner-city teens.

Sybil Wolin, Ph.D., is a developmental psychologist and co-director of Project Resilience, a private initiative based in Washington, D.C., that trains professionals to help youth and adults overcome hardships.

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