>Selecting age-appropriate books for students is a constant struggle. It’s not really about age; it’s about maturity. According the the cover information, Damage by A.M. Jenkins is geared for grades seven and up, but I think the book’s content is a bit mature, even for eighth graders, although there are some eighth graders in my presence who can handle it. I don’t believe in censorship. My philosophy tends more toward letting kids experience something through literature before they face it in the real world. Damage is one of those books that provides vicarious rehearsals.
Austin, a high school senior, doesn’t feel “right.” He’s anxious about whether or not he can build on a stellar junior football season, one in which he caught 15 touchdown passes. Since the end of last football season, his feelings have gone numb. He can’t figure it out; he doesn’t want to get out of bed, and his motivation for much of anything is subdued. Curtis and Dobie, his best friends, don’t see any difference, until he starts dating Heather, a classmate with her own issues. Heather, the most sought-after girl in the senior class, proves too strong. She and Austin begin dating, much to Curtis and Dobie’s dismay. Heather and Austin share one significant commonality – their fathers are both dead. Austin feels better when he’s with Heather, and he wonders if their relationship is a cure for his depression.
A.M. Jenkins has put together a tight, gripping novel that shines the spotlight on teen depression, friendship, and the unhealthy effects of teen dating. This is a worthy read!!