cover image Ask Me If I Care: Voices from an American High School

Ask Me If I Care: Voices from an American High School

Nancy Rubin Stuart / Author Ten Speed Press $21.95 (448p) ISBN

For the past 17 years, Rubin has taught a course called Social Living at Berkeley High School (BHS) in downtown Berkeley, Calif. Catering to students from a wide variety of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, BHS is not your typical high school, and nowhere is that clearer than in Rubin's nine-week course aimed at opening minds and clearing away misapprehensions about sex, race, STDs, parents, addictive substances, violence and more. Rubin's goal is to get kids to react in writing to videos, speakers and leading questions. Angry, poignant, wise, funny and mean, the students' journals provide a wealth of understanding into teen reactions to tough issues and, as in the particularly amusing section ``Etcetera Letters,'' into typically teenage concerns (``Dear Pimple On My Face...I HATE YOU. You just happen to be as big as a volcano, and you are erupting''). Most painful are the letters to parents, often absent, either emotionally or physically. If at times Rubin interjects too much about herself, the book as a whole is a worthwhile resource for parents and teachers, both to remind them of the old pains of being a teenager and to inform them of some new ones. (Oct)