Monday, January 2, 2012

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) by Sarah Mlynowski

I don't know how long this will last, but you can buy this for your eReader for 99 cents...

Anyway, I bought 10 Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) while waiting in the car for my mother to get finished with her shopping in BN. We were taking turns because the kiddo was asleep in the back seat; in her defense it was naptime. In our defense, one time we took her out when she wasn't fully awake yet...doing that with a baby (easy), doing that with a 12-month old (with a stroller=easy), doing that with a two-year old (stroller or not...hard as H-E-double hockey sticks!).

So, I waited, coffee in hand and surfed through the BN deals on my new Nook Tablet (Merry Christmas to me, from Christopher=husbands can be so sweet)...I ended up buying 4 YA novels each for less than a buck, one of which was this book; a book I wanted to read, but wasn't really in the mood to pay $10 for, a book I would have borrowed from a student, only I saw no student with it...

Anyway, I would have started it then and there, but the tiny person woke up and we went into the store to look at books and wait...

I started it yesterday morning and with all that was going on yesterday (2nd family, or was it 3rd?, family Christmas) I finished it yesterday evening.

Sadly, because I teach high school, I believed every word. I believed that lots of really nice girls who make good grades drink and party (I've had said nice girls in class and some of the stories I've overheard make me never want to have a teenage daughter), I also believe that teens no longer see sex as a stigma (it isn't only party girls that have sex)...I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing, but it is, I believe that teens understand the proper use of birth control, but not how they can still contract an STD and I believe that parents busy with living their second lives (ie. life after a divorce) don't notice the teen in the room who is screaming for them to lay down some rules and laws.

I like to think of these kinds of books, these modern day YA novels that have a teen girl protagonist, as lessons for me in how to raise a teenage girl...10 lessons I learned from this book:

1] Holy WOW! teach your kids about sex. I'll be teaching my daughter that she shouldn't have sex until she's older and mature and, hopefully, married, but I will also teach her about sex and STDs et cetera, if I don't she will learn from her friends, her teachers and life...and, I will look ill-prepared and naive.

2] I will not overshare my sex life with my teenage daughter (ick!) that's why parents have friends...

3] I will talk to my daughter like she is a person, I will ask her to tell me when she thinks she is ready to have sex, so we can talk...I will do this when she is 12, although in my head that seems a little young.

4] She will know she is loved, I will tell her often. She will know she is loved even if she does things that I do not like.

5] I will never take a job that requires me to leave her without adult supervision...even if that means I put my dreams on the back burner.

6] I will not move her away from her high school and her friends, even if that means I have to turn down a job (I have always firmly believed this!), however, if for some strange reason we have to move...she, kicking and screaming and pouting and moping, is coming with us.

7] I will trust my kid, but will actually meet parents face to face. I will not trust text, emails, running showers...

8] I will not impose year long punishments.

9] I will never get rid of my daughter's pet, even if we move overseas and said pet has to be in quarantine for 6 months.

10] I will give my daughter an allowance and have her tally up how she spent said allowance at the end of every month...what a good way to learn to budget, something I never learned...

OK, so I loved this book cussing, drinking, sex and all and heck, I'd let my daughter read it. I know I would have read it when I was a 9th grader...I read Forever by Judy Blume at that age.

If you've read this book what lessons did you learn? At what age do you think it's appropriate for kids to read?

Teacher Advisories
Sex 4/5 
One girl decides she wants to have sex with her best friend because she just wants to get it over with. She realizes that she may like him a little more than she realized. The main character has sex with her boyfriend and while it isn't describe in any detail whatsoever, they do have sex often. When the girls aren't having sex they're talking about sex, sharing innuendos, talking about males and their body parts. The girl who has sex with her boyfriend contracts an STD. Her friends are upset with her because she had unprotected sex. She protest because she had sex with her boyfriend who she believed hadn't had sex with anyone else. Many myths about sex and STDs are explored (no you cannot contract an STD from a hot tub). 
Language 4/5 
A boy calls a girl a slut because she's flirting with a guy who is not her boyfriend, in this scene the F-word is also used twice. Until this scene there isn't any profanity just innuendo.
Substance Abuses 4/5
Drinking, lots of drinking, lots of unsupervised parties. The book opens with the aftermath of a birthday bash (think the opening of 'The Hangover'; I did), in which the girls sold alcohol to raise money to pay off a cat operation.
Violence 1/5
Boy/girl verbal fights, girl/girl verbal fights

Touchy Subjects
This topic is handled with humor and candor. The girl who contracts chlamydia is willing to believe the boyfriend who tells her that it's her fault and is also willing to believe that she may have contracted it from a toilet seat or a hot tub although she knows these things to be untrue. She cries, she laughs, she's embarrassed, but she has friends who help her, while berating her for not using protection in the first place.
Both parents in the divorce have gone a little crazy and are thinking of themselves before their two kids. One parent moves to France another moves closer to his new wife's parents leaving behind his teenage daughter. When she ask to move back his initial reaction is that he'll have to think about it, as they turned her room into an office and gotten rid of her bed. Both of the main characters in the book are a little messed up because of this fact, one refuses to love or get close to anyone, the other thinks she's more adult than she is.
Parental Supervision
There isn't parent is too free and let's her daughter do whatever, the other totally trust his daughter to make proper choices, another lives across the ocean and can't really supervise like she would like because she feels guilty about leaving and about the affairs that ended her marriage...Both of the main characters show that what they really are parents who treat them like kids not like peers.
The girls lie to their parents (heck, they live alone for a semester without adult supervision, there has to be lots of lying going on), they lie to the school, a boyfriend lies to his girlfriend more than once and the girls lie to themselves at times.
Compulsive Exercising
To stay in control of the situation one girl over exercises, at all times (including in the middle of the night)...I've never read a book that tackles this issue, but have known people who do this and wondered how to help them.
Birth Control
The girls skip school and go to Planned Parenthood to get on birth control. While I have never been to Planned Parenthood it is interesting that teens can go there without parental contact, can get the pill or even get checked out for an STD.

How this book is used in the classroom
1] Independent Read option: it's full of too much stuff for me to consider it for anything else.
2] Websites
Sarah Mlynowski
FB page for the book
Review I like from the Ninja Librarian

5 Stars
Seriously, the best kind of book is a book that just seems fun and pointless, but then you realize that you learned something from it, this is one of those books.


  1. Great review. I'm raising an adolescent daughter & am a teacher, so your take On it was right up my alley. I already wanted to read it, but now I can't wait. I love reading YA with my daughter, because it gives us another avenue to talk about things we should be talking about.

  2. Thanks! That's so wonderful to hear! Glad to see I think reading with your kids is important, I enjoy it now and will enjoy it when she's older!


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