Teens go through the harrowing process of teening.
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth doesn’t pull punches.
At the age of 13, a tragic thing happens to a classmate. Some kids blame themselves. Most donâ€™t.
We follow them through their high school years and the traumas they experience and inflict. Thereâ€™s the usual mix of drugs, sex, and bullying, but itâ€™s jarring how far they take it.
Jarring, yes, but still realistic. We hear all the time about cyberbullying, teen suicide, and other horrific acts these burgeoning adults inflict on each other.
Is teenagerdom the most dangerous place on earth?
Is high school? Is it within our own stifled yet yearning selves? NY Times reviewer Sarah Lyall argues (wisely) the most dangerous place could be cyberspace. So many of the evils done are online.
One of the most tragic figures of this book is the new starry-eyed teacher, Molly. She misguidedly thinks these kids are yearning for her advice and eager to accept her into their fold. This is the fulfillment of the high school experience she never quite had.
Finally, Molly has a chance to fit in. But as a teacher, itâ€™s not her job to fit in. Sheâ€™s little more than a blip to these kids, while theyâ€™re everything to her. She goes too far, but her solution and redirect is just as unsatisfying.
While The Most Dangerous Place on Earth is about teens, it’s not for them.
I’ve heard some call this book YA. It isn’t (again, nothing against YA, which is wonderful – this just isn’t it). I see this type of genre mix up quite a bit. Books written by or about women, for example, are often labeled chick lit.
Genre aside, itâ€™s hard not to insert my own feelings while reading this book. Iâ€™m having the Breakfast Club paradox with this one, too – I find myself wondering more about the parents and HORRIFIED at the darker side of the teenage world. Parenting a teen is no joke. It. Is. No. Joke.
It makes me want to be an adult Holden Caulfield (except, you know, not a young disaffected delinquent), quietly waiting in the rye to catch these characters before they tumble into oblivion.
Part of growing up includes growing apart from those binds. Sometimes, it means taking the fall so you can know how to get back up. It means a delicate balance for parents in knowing when to intervene and when to back off.
Just as teens make mistakes, so do adults. And itâ€™s horribly evident with this bookâ€™s characters.