Saturday, April 28, 2007
Easy, by Kerry Cohen Hoffman
Jessica's talent is photography, but it isn't enough. As she prepares for an upcoming national contest, she realizes that she needs something more: to be noticed and loved by others. And, although she is only 14, she knows there is one way she can get that attention. And while she fully realizes the danger of flirting with men, it is simply so easy to do and it provides her with the attention she craves.
This is an absolutely stunning book. Obviously, I don't know from any first-hand experience, but Hoffmann seems to have truly captured the eseence of adolescent feminine desire -- brilliantly balancing lust, insecurity, anxiety, love, and loyalty. It may help that she's a counselor, but a writer this good has to have both an ear and a heart. I was extremely impressed and highly recommend this book.
The book does raise a number of issues for adults. It's quite explicit (we've come a long way since Judy Blume!) and some parents may have second thoughts about kids reading it, but I would urge careful consideration. The sexual explicit scenes in the book are realistic and show respect for the readers (depicting both a strong sense of consequences -- one might even accuse the book of preachiness -- and a respect for life and self-worth). This novel is completely removed from exploitative trashiness. Part of me still is uncomfortable recommending it to its target audience of 13 and 14 year-olds, but I think the story it has to tell is important and true for that age group.