________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 10 . . . . January 21, 2005


I Wrote On All Four Walls: Teens Speak Out On Violence.

Fran Fearnley, ed.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2004.
144 pp., pbk. & cl., $12.95 (pbk.), $19.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55037-756 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55037-757-4 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Youth and violence.
Violence in adolescence.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Betsy Fraser.

** /4


I was having a lot of problems at school because of the abuse at home. My stepfather would beat my mother, so in turn she would take her anger out on me. It was a vicious cycle all the time, doing drugs, dealing, whatever it was. My mother was a drug addict. She was into cocaine, then heroine, then later morphine. I went to school and they knew we were having trouble. We were really, really poor. We had absolutely no money. I used to wear bread bags in my boots because my boots would make my feet wet. We went to the food bank. When you're on welfare and your parents have a drug habit, you don't have much to live off of in the end.


This is violence as told from the point of view of the kids and teens experiencing it. The language and descriptions are extremely graphic and will likely be very disturbing, but may offer hope to teens who may not know that there are others who have been in the same situation, or how to begin to deal with such immense problems. Nine teens tell very different and shocking tales. Mitigating factors vary widely: cultural implications, coming out, familial histories of drugs, violence and disorders. The shared factor remains the violence itself, but readers will be very interested in where that violence leads the teenagers and the choices they make in dealing with it. The book concludes with a chapter from Dr. Fred Matthews, an authority in teen violence, entitled "Now What?: Advice from an Expert?" This is not a lengthy treatise, but a group of short answers to Who? Why? What to do? And Where to Go? Teenagers, and teachers will find these very useful, both for explanations and for discussion purposes. Teachers will want to read this material first, given the nature and language, but they may find the underlying content useful, especially given its realism. This is much more a book for bibliotherapy or awareness than pleasure reading, but it will give its readers a greater understanding of the astounding difficulties faced by some teenagers in modern society.


Betsy Fraser is a Young Adult librarian at Calgary Public Library.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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