Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of The Buddha

Adolescents face the difficult task in defining themselves and discovering who they are as they make their way into adulthood. Although Tara Brach’s book, Radical Acceptance, is not technically a piece of YA literature it does have a place in the adolescent classroom. The picture chosen to represent Brach’s self-help book is a woman with her arms open to the world. This picture represents the openness and mindfulness taught in Radical Acceptance. There are many ways to deal with struggle and adversity, both of which many teens face as they grow up. However, this book explains one method where a person opens themselves to their experiences, thus allowing themselves to experience their lives free from self-deprecation of self loathing. So many teenagers face issues of insecurity that come from the various changes they experience physically and mentally. Using Radical Acceptance to pause and evaluate where feelings are coming from in order to be mindful is one way that adolescents may learn to deal with their problems. This picture exemplifies Radical Acceptance because, although all things are not wonderful to experience, they can be seen that way if they are taken as part of the human experience or part of life.

Picture Citation:

Creative Commons from Flickr “Freedom 2”

CC BY 2.0

13 Reasons Why

“I hope you’re ready, because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.”

13 Reasons Why was author, Jay Asher’s, first novel. This book is about a teenage girl, Hannah, who is suffering from depression and commits suicide. The book begins after she has already killed herself and left 13 cassette tapes to specific people explaining why they all had a part in her suicide. The narrator of the story switches off between Hannah and a boy named Clay, who listens to the tapes. Clay was not really a part of Hannah’s suicide in the same way as the other people she speaks about on the tapes and he is conflicted about why she included him as one of the people to listen to them. This story is a very sad example of how rumors and gossip can really hurt a person and how one persons actions may not seem that harmful but when compounded, they may negatively affect another person’s life. Throughout the story Clay listens to Hannah’s tapes and is guilty for not seeing the signs of her depression earlier and for not getting to know her because he believed the rumors he heard about her. The dark, and sometimes disturbing, story leading up to Hannah’s suicide show Clay how much there actually is to a person and how important it is to try and get to know people for yourself. In the end of the story, Clay uses his experiences with Hannah and her tapes to change his actions. With the new ability to identify the signs of depression or personal struggle, he reaches out of a girl he thinks might be suffering from something similar to Hannah. Although the reader doesn’t get to see whether or not he helps the girl, it shows the reader that Clay has changed and Hannah’s death was not in vain.

I think this book was very good even though it was hard to read. I think it is important for young adults to read about depression and suicide because it is something that affects their age group. The book portrays a realistic high school experience, filled with gossip, bullying, cliques, sex, drugs, ect. and how that world can be hard to handle if you feel alone. Although it is a dark topic, the book does a pretty good job of highlighting what is important to know about depression and suicide in young adults. The only negative thing I have to say about the novel is that the way the book is structures makes Hannah out to seem very vengeful and angry, which I’m sure she was, however, I would not want students reading this book to confuse Hannah as some sort of spiteful villain rather than the victim she truly was.

American Born Chinese

Being different is never easy. It isn’t fun to stand out of in a crowd and have people treat you a certain way because of your appearance, background, the way you speak or dress, how old you are, or basically anything that set you apart. In American Born Chinese, the main character, Jin, struggles to accept his chinese heritage. He constantly tries to become Americanized and at one point he even transforms into another person because he is so untrue to who he really is. Similarly, the Monkey King tries to conform and conceal his monkey heritage by wearing shoes. The picture of a funny face symbolizes the message in the book because it is a reminder to “embrace one’s weirdness”. That is not to say in anyway that Jin or the Monkey King are weird in a negative sense, it simply means that they had to learn to embrace their differences because it is only once this is done that a person (or monkey) can be his or her best self.

Photo Citation: CC BY 2.0

Looking For Alaska

Aside from the unintended snow reference, the perfect picture to synthesize the message of John Green’s Looking for Alaska is a shot of a beautiful snowy street. While there are many different moral lessons, meanings, and messages in the novel one that really stood out is the idea that something can seem simply beautiful while really existing as a much more complex conundrum. The character Alaska is so alluring to Miles because her beauty and lively personality excites him. He almost falls in love with the idea of Alaska much in the same way people romanticize snowy days (“Winter Wonderland” for instance). While a snowy day may seem perfectly beautiful from a distance or from inside one’s warm home, in reality snow does a lot of damage, ruins plans, alters schedules, causes accidents, creates panic, and it is not even sustainable for humans to exist in for a long period of time. In the same way, Alaska may look stunning, and her troubled past may seem like somewhat of a beautiful darkness but in reality it is actually much more complex and leads to her downfall.