Taste Berries for Teen is a collection of stories, many of which are written by teens for teens. Bettie B. Youngs is the editor of this inspirational and encouraging book for young adults. The book is so named for a unique fruit that, once eaten, makes all food (bland, bitter, etc.) palatable. The book stresses an analogy between this special fruit and people. People, specifically teens in this book, have the ability, just like a taste berry, to make the world a better place. This book also helps teens recognize the people who act as taste berries in their own life. This isn't great literature folks. You wont find a write-up on it in The Alan Review. But, teens are reading this book and others like it so they are worth taking a look at.
Lets face it; were all on a journey through this life and adolescence isn't the smoothest part on the path. There are bumps and unforeseen bends that can throw teens for a loop. Any bit of positive encouragement is a great thing and that is just what this book offers. It is divided into four parts;
- Friendship; Finding, Keeping and Sometimes Losing It,
- The Right Stuff; Attitudes for Life Success-Becoming A Person of...
- Deciding What To Do In Life; Discovering Your Interests, Talents and Direction
Each section starts with an anecdote or short story and follows with a note from the editors (a mother/daughter team.) This is followed with entries from teens that the authors have collected. This book offers real stories from real teens living life in contemporary America. They are encouraging short stories about teens who may be struggling with some of the very issues that the readers are struggling with. Many teens feel alone in their struggles and this book offers them hope from peers who have felt just the same feelings as the reader. The style of writing varies depending upon the author. Some poetry is included too.
My favorite story in the book was a short entry called Aristotle. A young man came to Aristotle and asked to learn everything that he could from him. Aristotle walked with him a ways. When the man stooped over a stream to take a drink, Aristotle held him under water until the mans arms were flailing as he tried to get up for air. Finally Aristotle released him and he came up gasping for breath. The lesson Aristotle had for his student was this; you must want to learn as badly as your body wanted air. That spirit of determination struck a personal cord within me. It is just what I need to get through graduate school while being a wife, mother, and teacher.
I have to admit this book appears to be a copy cat of the popular and well received Chicken Soup series books. Youngs seems to be milking it as well. One can find More Taste Berries for Teens, Taste Berries for Teens 3, A Taste Berry Teens Guide to Managing Stress and Pressures of Life, and A Taste Berry Teens Guide to Setting and Achieving Goals at their bookstore. Ka-ching!
Youngs, Bettie B. and Jennifer Leigh Youngs, ed. 1999. TASTE BERRIES FOR TEENS: INSPIRATIONAL SHORT STORIES AND ENCOURAGEMENT ON LIFE, LOVE, FRIENDSHIP AND TOUGH ISSUES. New York: Scholastic Inc. ISBN: 0-439-25613-5.