Wednesday, August 29, 2007
From the publisher:
A weird family, one messed-up guy, and an angry coyote transform Griffin Smith's rite-of-passage road trip to his freshman year of college into an attitude-changing adventure! As their journey takes random detours and the states blur by, Griffin, his best friend, father, and kid brother learn life lessons about forgiveness, integrity, and character.
I'll admit I feel a bit conflicted about this book. I've worked with troubled kids for over twenty years so I know where the authors are coming from. The book was compulsively readable. The wit, sarcasm, and analogies were the most original and creative I've ever read. The authors clearly had insight into a troubled kid's head as well. I'm not sure I agree that the content is for kids as young as twelve, though, despite what the recommended age level is. For one thing, Griffin does a lot of dangerous stuff in this book including self-mutilation and drinking secretively through the majority of the book. My concern would be that a troubled kid would read about something they'd never done before (like burn themselves) and try it because they read about it as a way of coping for Griffin and if they thinks he's cool...
I dunno. I remember being 12 and 13 and reading a book about girls who were anorexic and trying to imitate their behavior when I was upset because I thought they were cool. That's what I'm getting at here. I liked how the authors gave incredible insight via the first person point of view into Griffin's inner heart attitude and his extreme pain over his mother's abandonment and how that played out in his life. I also liked how they showed the lessons Griffin learned over time, though they were slow at coming out and then the book was over. I'm also a bit conflicted on the spiritual element because from reading this book you sort of get the impression that Griffin sees himself as a Christian, yet his thoughts don't seem to match up with how a truly spiritually regenerated person would view things. He seemed to have no hope at all so that didn't sit right with me. However, he did seem to understand grace more in the end, so something obviously happened to his heart to change his impression of what a relationship with Christ means.
Some of the stuff in Bad Idea is truly LOL funny, but even when reading snippets to my two teenage sons, I could not get them interested in reading this book and they are the target audience! Some of the stuff seemed too thirty-something sounding in Griffin's thoughts. What 18 year-old knows what Billy Idol's fish hook snarl looks like? Or am I just out of touch with the pop culture of today? At any rate, I still recommend this book for a snappy read to someone who loves angst and works with troubled youth. I'm just not so sure I'd recommend it to troubled teens as a resource. Sure, they might also self-mutilate and can identify with Griffin's thought process, however, if they don't already self-mutilate I'd hate to think they had now just discovered a whole new way to hurt themselves via a Christian book. Make sense?
I love edgy stuff, so I had to really sleep on this one before I put my thoughts down to be fair to the authors. I still want to read the sequel.
Bad Idea was published by NavPress THINK and released in August 2006.