Body Drama
Nancy Amanda Redd
ISBN 978-1-592-403-26-4
Publisher, Copyright date
Grade 6 and up
Genre Non-Fiction/Body Issues

Real girls, real questions – what is up with your body?

Summary:

Nancy Redd explores common questions about girls’ bodies in an honest and empathetic manner (she’s been there!). Covering the female body from top to bottom (dandruff to foot fungus) and everything in between (inverted nipples, bacne, labia shape, overall body image, tanning), Redd tastefully explains that there are problems that can develop with one’s body. Many of these issues are easily remedied, and if not, you are not alone.

Critique:

This is a fun and informative book about the female body. Redd’s tone is excellent, she lets the reader know that they are not unique in their problems by providing photos and stories from her own adolescence. Definitions and illustrative photos (rather than drawings), along with a cast of teen girls of varying sizes and ethnicities, are key to the importance of this book.

Curriculum Ties:

Body Drama could be successfully integrated into a sex education unit. When I was in high school I took a “Social Living” type of class, where we examined personal and societal issues, this would be a great read in a similar unit or class.

Controversy:

Nudity, including photos of breasts, butts, and vulvas. Discussion of STIs. Discussion of Birth Control.

Although many might find the nudity objectionable, it really shows the variations in the female form. There really is no other way to get the point across that your body is natural, normal, and beautiful. Girls will find themselves in the photos Redd provides. These are not photos sexualizing or even glamorizing younger girls, additionally, all of the girls pictured are over the age of eighteen. Refer challengers to reviews.

The inclusion of information on birth control may be objectionable to those who advocate an abstinence only program. However, Redd is not advocating pre-marital sex or selling The Pill.

Selection Rationale:

A great contribution to the body issues shelf due to the inclusion of real girl and a frank answer to practically any question one could have about their body and their body issues.

“I believe BODY DRAMA is a revolutionary stride forward for females everywhere; I dare any girl to take a peek inside and not keep on reading . . .for hours.” – YABooksCentral.com

ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 2009

Quick Pick for Detainees, 2009 – School Library Journal

Booktalking:

What are the problems that Redd addresses in this book?

About the Author:

Nancy Redd is a Harvard graduate and Miss America swimsuit competition winner. She is a wellness author for many publications including FITNESS and AOL.

Additional information:

Nancy Redd’s and the Body Drama website: http://www.nancyredd.com

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The Burn Journals
Brent Runyon
ISBN 0-375-82621-1
Alfred A. Knopf, 2004
Grade 8 and up
Non-Fiction/Memoir

Fourteen-year-old Brent cannot stand the thought of facing his parents after screwing up again. The only way out he can see is death, but when his plans go wrong, Brent endures a year of pain and recovery.

Summary:

At age fourteen Brent Runyon sets himself on fire. He is depressed and in trouble at school again; he’s already tried to kill himself several times, he figures fire is an element you can’t back down from. Boy, was he wrong. Rather than face the consequences of his actions, Brent puts on his bathrobe, douses it in gasoline, steps into the bathtub and lights a match. After mere moments the pain is more than he can stand. He turns on the shower and puts out the flames. Unsure of what to do, he leaves the bathroom to find his brother. And so begins Brent’s year in rehab and therapy. The Burn Journals recounts his painful physical and mental healing as a result of the third-degree burns covering eighty-five percent of his body. Brent endures skin grafts, operations, and physical and psychiatric therapy. He thinks his brother hates him, he has to deal with social repercussions.

Critique:

Wow. This is quite a story, parts of it are very shocking and moving, but overall I found the book lacking. Although the book was engrossing, it seemed there was a level of his mental healing process that Runyon could not communicate. Why was he so depressed? Was he a pyromaniac? What was wrong with him? I was left with a lot of unanswered questions by this one — Runyon offers up no answers or solutions except for the importance of help. However, I think it is a valuable addition to a teen biography/memoir collection.

Curriculum Ties:

Use The Burn Journals while studying memoirs in a Language Arts or English class.

Controversy:

Suicide, graphic descriptions of Brent’s physical recuperation.

Have challengers read the entire book. Highlight the importance of discussing depression in teen boys as well as girls.

Selection Rationale:

I read good reviews of this book, but that isn’t why I included it. This is a book about male depression, an important and seldom addressed issue. The Burn Journals is important for this reason. It will undeniably also appeal to girls.

ALA Popular Paperback for Young Adults, 2007

Booktalking:

What does Brent’s brother see and feel when Brent walks out of the bathroom?

Author Information:

Brent Runyon, born 1977, has written three books for young adults. He is a regular contributor to NPR’s This American Life, where the story of his suicide attempt was first featured.

Additional Information:

The audiobook version of The Burn Journals is an ALA Amazing Audiobook for Young Adults (2009).

The Burn Journals http://www.burnjournals.com/content.html