Two unsupervised teenagers learn some hard life lessons without any adult help, whether it’s how to wash clothes or how to navigate relationships. Certainly Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have) is a good read for teenagers before they head out into the real world.
By Irene Levy Baker
My daughter and I read Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have) on a family trip. She read the book from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, and I read it on the way home. The book was a fun and quick read, and made the plane ride fly by.
April, the main character and a high school junior, chooses to remain in her Connecticut hometown rather than follow her dad to a new job in Cleveland or her mom to a new life in Paris. Through a couple of little lies, April maneuvers staying with Vi, a 17-year-old friend, whose mother is off performing in a traveling Broadway show.
The two girls learn some basic life skills: the type of soap to use in the dishwasher, how to grocery shop and how to cook. But, the unsupervised teens also engage in high-risk behavior. They lose their virginity under dubious circumstances. April uses sex to keep her boyfriend, then loses him anyway. And he gives her an STD. Vi wants her first sexual experience to be without strings, but she eventually develops feelings for the uninterested boy. The girls use deception to avoid parental suspicion by setting up fake email accounts for each parent. When April’s dad sends Vi’s mom an email, April and Vi reply.
Despite their parents’ selfish pursuit of their own interests, the teens learn from their parents’ bad decisions. Vi, the product of a teen pregnancy, fears repeating her mother’s mistake and is very responsible about birth control. April feels abandoned, lonely and unloved by her parents, but ultimately she feels guilty about her deception. Maybe teen readers will see that it’s not so bad to have vigilant parents, like those who care enough to read Your Teen.
Ten Things is not going to win any literary prizes, but reading the book with your teen creates an opportunity for important discussions. As a mom, I worry that the book reads like a “How To” guide for risky teen behavior. On the other hand, the story can open a conversation about many topics that experts suggest we discuss with our kids: sex, virginity, underage drinking and risky decision-making.
By Rachel Baker
Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have) is a thrilling, page-turning book, and currently, one of my favorites. The main character, April Berman, is living a normal life with her mother, father and brother in Connecticut, when her parents decide to throw in the towel and get divorced, leaving April numb with pain and confusion.
Her mother and brother move half way around the world to France, and April is left in Connecticut with her dad, trying to pick up the pieces. One year later, life has settled down and April is living happily with her father and step-mom. And, she is madly in love with Noah, her boyfriend, whom she relied on during the divorce. April’s life seems to be running smoothly when her father drops a bomb: “We’re moving.” With these two words, two words that a junior in high school never wants to hear, April’s world crumbles to pieces again.
April decides that she has lost too much in the last year and is not going to let her father take away all that’s left: her home, friends and especially, Noah. In a panic, April gets a genius idea. She will move in with her friend, Vi, who has a house big enough to accommodate April. Plus, Vi has a totally cool mom. The plan is perfect! April won’t have to leave her beloved hometown or Noah for boring Cleveland, and hey, it’ll probably be fun rooming with a friend.
There is just one little problem. Vi’s mom will be away starring in a Broadway show for the rest of the year, and April knows that there is NO way her dad would ever let her stay in Connecticut unsupervised. But somehow, between Vi’s fearless, confident attitude, and April’s unbreakable will to stay put in Connecticut, they manage to trick April’s father into letting her stay with Vi for the rest of the school year. Now April’s father and step-mom are off to Cleveland and April is moving in with Vi. April cannot believe her luck. She and Vi have the house to themselves for the rest of the year. They can have parties whenever they want, boys over all night long and her parents aren’t even living in the same state as her! What can go wrong, right?