WHAT IT TAKES TO PULL ME THROUGH: Why Teenagers Get in Trouble and How Four of Them Got Out

David L. Marcus, Author . Houghton Mifflin $25 (338p) ISBN 978-0-618-14545-4

Motivated by a personal quest as a journalist and father, Marcus set out to report on the difficulties of being a teen today, and focused on the transformation of four troubled adolescents. His subjects engaged in activities like sneaking out of the house to have sex with multiple, random partners; stealing credit cards; snorting heroin; and engaging in self-mutilation. Their parents, desperate to help, sent the teens away from home, to the exclusive, $5,000-a-month Academy at Swift River in Massachusetts for 14 months of group therapy, wilderness survival and intensive academic courses. Marcus deftly intersperses his sharp observations with heart-wrenching statistics about the often crushing pressures of modern teenage life. The truth Marcus uncovers is significant, but not surprising: parents need to stay actively involved and interested in their children's lives. In the end, we're not even sure Swift River's program works: "nobody... could reliably predict who would triumphantly stride across the stage for graduation... and who would end up in a lock-down facility." However, as readers peer in from the outside, they learn to pinpoint the events—dealing with the death of a parent; being the victim of bullying; fighting overindulgence—and emotions that sent these (and many other teenagers) careening off their promising paths. Agent, Andrew Blauner. (Jan. 14)

Reviewed on: 12/06/2004
Release date: 01/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 338 pages - 978-0-618-77202-5
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