When you were a little kid, you relied on your parents for everything.
You needed them to make sure you were clean and dressed. Without them, there wouldn’t have been food in the house (let alone on the table). They kept safe, entertained, and disciplined.
These days, though, you don’t need Mom or Dad quite as much. You can dress yourself and you know where food comes from.
She’s growing up.
In the new book “Teenie” (c.2010, Knopf, $16.99/$18.99, Canada, 264 pages) by Christopher Grant, a young girl learns that safety with her parents is as close as she needs it–and she needs it a lot.
Cherise never listens.
She and Martine “Teenie” Lashley have been besties forever, so Teenie knows that Cherise hears what she wants to hear but it’s not her fault, really. Cherise’s mother never taught her the things that Teenie learned from her parents, like how it’s better to be a listener than a talker. And Cherise sure can talk.
Teenie’s parents taught her that education was extremely important and she paid attention to that, too. She’s a good student except for math, but Garth, a classmate, helps her out. He might have the littlest crush on Teenie, and though she thinks he’s nice and all, he’s kind of a nerd.
Boys are, in fact, altogether a big question mark. Cherise knows how to flirt and she gets all kinds of boy-attention, but that’s not Teenie’s style. She knows her parents would have heart attacks if she did what Cherise did. Teenie’s father, Beresford, is from Barbados and he has some wild (and somewhat old-fashioned) ideas about the way girls should act. But since Cherise’s mother is never around, Cherise gets away with all kinds of things that Teenie never could.
And then–just when Teenie resigned herself to be boyfriend-less throughout high school, and just when she had her heart set on studying abroad one semester–Gregory Millions, senior captain of the football team, “hot to death,” noticed this cute little freshman walking around Brooklyn Technical High… But once she got to know him, Teenie learned that Greg Millions is about a million times not what he seems.
Then Cherise got mad because Teenie told a secret about her that Cherise wanted kept quiet.
Will this school year ever end?
As a teen, there have undoubtedly been times when you’ve rolled your eyes at a novel written by a well-meaning adult that totally missed the mark. You can grab “Teenie” with no worries, though. Author Christopher Grant hit his target dead-on.
Teenie Lashley is a bit of a nerd, but she’s trying hard to overcome it. She loves her parents, but she’s a little embarrassed by them. And though she’s growing up, there are things she knows she just can’t handle herself. I liked this book for its realness and because Grant treats his audience like intelligent readers, and not like kids.
Though anybody can–and will–enjoy this book, I think 13- 17-year-old girls will like it best. For them, “Teenie” ain’t no small thing.