What is the measure of a person?

17 Mar


As I read Sarah Mlynowski’s book, Don’t Even Think About It, I was fascinated. The premise of the book is terrific. If you were able to read the minds of other people — and they could read yours – what kind of chaos would ensue? In this book we meet some delightful characters who all happen to share a homeroom at school. They share other things as well. Things all teenagers share. They worry about their weight. They worry about their grades (a little). They worry about how popular they are. They worry about giving speeches. They worry about their parents. They worry about parties. They worry about each other. Only now, the result of a contaminated batch of flu vaccine (which, by the way, I did not appreciate since so many people already have unfounded issues about flu shots) they know what other people think. You may tell me I look fine and I don’t need to lose weight but if I could read your mind I might find out something else And secrets? They are a thing of the past. The twist is that not only can I read your mind but you can also read mine. Not everyone, of course, only those students who got the contaminated flu vaccine.

The question arises, do you want to get rid of this ability? At times their ability has come in really handy. At times it has caused much pain. If an antidote can be found they can get rid of their mind-reading gift. But do they want to? I’ve always wanted to be able to read people’s minds, but I want the ability to turn it off and on at will. Oh, and I don’t want anyone to read mine.

I always thought that the true measure of a person is what they do and not what they say. But this book gave me pause. Where does what a person think fit in? Is what you think a truer measure of you than what you do? I discussed this at length with some of my current students. They are in 8th grade which makes them 13-ish. The discussion was fast, furious and engaging. I know what my personal conclusion was — but I pondered it for days. I know that my students did not agree with me or with each other. What do you think? What’s the true measure of you — what you think, what you say or what you do?

I would not recommend this book for my current students for two reasons. There is some sexual activity described in the book, and while not graphic, it is a bit too advanced for my middle school students. My current demographic is relatively conservative and this book pushes the sex card a bit too far for my families. For myself, other adults that enjoy YA literature, for more mature teens, go for it. It’s a book that I truly enjoyed and I think you will too. Let me know what you think.

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