Funny thing about being in high school. A few years ago, I went back to my old high school. Since I had lived out of state for years and this was pre-Facebook, I had lost touch with almost everyone. As we stood around reminiscing about our past, I had an epiphany. Almost everyone in high school thinks they are not popular!
As I heard people I would have identified as some of the most popular kids in our class talk about being teased or not feeling like they fit in, I realized maybe the whole popular thing is more about learning to be comfortable in your own skin. Perhaps it is about realizing there is no “normal” person and being different can really be just great (in healthy, godly ways of course). Maybe our shared angst was actually more about discovering who we were than about how popular we thought we were.
I was curious to read the book Popular: Boys, Booze, and Jesus by Tindell Baldwin. The author was raised in the stereotypical “good” Christian home, but went through a period of serious rebellion in high school. She tells the story of her slide into alcohol, drugs and sex as well as finding her way back to God. Along the way she shares with readers the painful lessons she learned and the Biblical truths she wished she had heeded.
I am really torn about books like this. As a former “good” girl, I find them in some ways to have an almost opposite effect on me. Was I really the only teen left that was trying to abide by God’s commands? My daughter, who is probably a bit more grounded than I was at her age, just finds them annoying. She says she really has no desire to spend time reading about other people’s bad decisions. She would rather read books encouraging her to stay on the good path with positive examples.
I do think this book can help girls who are already on the wrong path. Perhaps this book can convince them there is a way out of the misery their bad choices have created. Instead of thinking there is no hope, Baldwin’s story can serve as a road map for them to find their way back to God.
If you are the parent of a girl who is perhaps tempted by alcohol, drugs and/or sexual activity, I would seriously consider all of the possible angles before sharing this book with your child. I know in some cases teens are encouraged to continue sinning, because books like this show them they can change their mind later and come back (in their minds) relatively unscathed. The author does try to describe the scars she received from her bad choices. I am just not sure a tempted teen will really understand the full impact of what she is saying.
On the other hand, I do think this book can be very instructive for parents. Although the author may not even fully realize it herself, it does show what her parents did that helped and what they did that actually pushed her more in the wrong direction. I would imagine it could also open a few parental eyes to how their teens are working them to participate in unwise activities.
Perhaps the strongest part of the book is towards the end when she discusses the impact of pre-marital sex on her eventual marriage. She does one of the best jobs I have read of painting a clear picture of how having sex before marriage changes what your marriage could have been in very real ways.
My bottom line? This book isn’t best for every teen. As a parent, I would suggest you read it before offering it to your teen. You will probably learn some things and get some tips on sharing the consequences of sinful behavior with your teen. Then talk with your teen and use your best judgment before sharing the book. This book may be what your child needs to be stronger or it may discourage her even more. Only you and your child can really make that call. I am glad that this book is there for those who will find its lessons help them re-connect with God.
Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in return for my review. Although it may not help every girl, it will be just the book that makes the difference for others.