In this compassionate and compelling work, Bode ( The Voices of Rape ) and Village Voice cartoonist Mack assemble a dozen real-life stories from teenagers involved in various types of relationships, both positive and negative. While sex is a concern common to many of the stories, the collection explores a wide variety of other issues--coping with a disability, violence, interracial dating, self-acceptance, codependence and breaking up among them. Unobtrusive onlookers who offer neither answers nor judgments, Bode and Mack relay each story as if merely transcribing the words of its narrator. Nor have they, apparently, toned down their subjects' language. When Suki frankly discusses being raped by a boyfriend, the pain feels real, as does the healing she experiences through the understanding of her current boyfriend. Seth's emotional turmoil when he discovers that he is gay, and the way he deals with a crush on a good friend, reflect the loneliness of the many gay teens who feel alienated from their peers. Two segments, one about a girl involved with a racist skinhead and the other about the trials of unrequited love, are effectively rendered as cartoons (``Think of them as videos in book form,'' write these canny authors). Fact boxes scattered between chapters contain salient newspaper articles and statistics about teen sexuality. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)
"When I was a kid, I thought one day Prince Charming would come into my life," says Ofelia. Like all the teens in this collection of true stories, Ofelia is looking for love. Ofelia's story is one of the more uplifting ones. Confined to a wheel chair and protected by parents who love her, Ofelia decides at age 17 to have sex with her boyfriend. Working out logistics is the complicated part for her. In another story, Louis meets thirteen-year-old Maura during the summer before tenth grade. He spends all his money and time with her, forgetting his other friends and family. After five months, she starts flirting with other guys. Eventually, Louis realizes that a girlfriend cannot possess every minute of his life. Other teens stories involve abusive and obsessive relationships, suicide attempts, drugs, alcohol, homosexuality, and pain. Reading these frank descriptions of attempts by junior-high- and high-school-age teens struggling with heartbreak may help young people feel thankful for their own problems and realize they are not alone.
Gr 7 Up-Unfortunately, there are a lot of teens out there like the characters here, who literally seem to be ``looking for love in all the wrong places.'' All of the young people in Bode's stories are trying to come to grips with their sexuality, and each one portrays a troubled relationship. Most are heterosexual; all of them are seeking love. What they are finding instead is sex, drugs and alcohol, and confrontation. Some try suicide. A few get counseling. All seem confused and more than a little disconnected from their families. Scattered throughout are fact boxes with news clips such as, ``Sex and the Teenage girl: More partners, More risks.'' Two of the stories are told in black-and-white cartoon-strip format. Books like this one may help YAs recognize and possibly recover from bad relationships. However, it might be equally helpful to then steer them toward books like Judith Caseley's Kisses (Random, 1990) or Walter Dean Myers's Motown and Didi (Viking, 1984) to show them some positive relationships.-Evelyn Carter Walker, Alexandrian Public Library, Mt. Vernon, IN
Although love is a prime teenage concern and the stuff of countless YA novels, it's rarely the subject of teen nonfiction. Bode and Mack take a swing at changing that, but instead of trying to explain what love is, they concentrate on what it isn't. Offering 12 real-life stories, 2 in cartoon form, they explore "love gone wrong"--abusive, obsessive, irresponsible love. Related in teens' own halting words, the accounts have the awkwardness and spontaneity of confidences exchanged with close friends. Whether it's a disabled teen talking about the practicalities of having sex, someone involved in an abusive relationship, or a gay youth whose first lover pretends their intimacy never happened, the stories are candid--about love, about pain, and about sex. And as in real life, they often have no satisfying conclusion. Mack's stories in cartoon are nicely done and a good change of pace, but they lack the intimate quality of the narratives. Unlike some of Bode's other books, this contains no commentary to help kids put what they read into perspective; the kids' recollections, however, usually get the point across quite well.