Life Sucks: How to Deal with the Way Life Is, Was, and Always Will Be Unfair

Penguin/Penguin Workshop. Apr. 2019. 240p. further reading. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781524787905.
Gr 7 Up–This self-help guide for teens offers advice about friendships, school, cultural differences, body image, home life, and sexuality. Each topic has its own chapter and includes a sample situation (such as a teen getting teased at school because they’re overweight), a quiz about how readers would react to said situation, and suggestions of “what you can actually do about it” versus what parents tell teens they should do. While the book contains some nuggets of wisdom, the scenarios seem vague. Specific incidents from the lives of the authors or from teens themselves would have made the book more relatable to young adults. Some chapters are stronger than others. The “Bodies Suck” section delivers practical medical information about eating disorders and self-harm. It’s clear that one of the authors is an M.D. The “Sexuality Sucks” chapter emphasizes consent and reminds readers that online sexual content is nothing like real-life sex. The “Homes Suck” chapter covers abusive family relationships and when to call the authorities. Less effective is the “Cultural Differences Suck” section, which seems to focus on scenarios that assume readers are either from a conservative religious background or a default white background. Although well-intentioned, the book attempts to tackle too many topics and doesn’t go into enough depth about any of them. It’s tough to imagine a teen reading this cover to cover, but perhaps they can benefit from individual chapters and the further resources list.
VERDICT A secondary purchase where self-help books for teens are in demand

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