Allan Stratton's Leslie's Journal
Book review by Karen Talley
Ages: Young Adult
Leslie's Journal by Allan Stratton is the story of Leslie Phillips, a teenage girl living with her recently divorced mother.
Leslie has kicked up the fairly typical tenth grader attitude a notch.
She is rude, sarcastic and hostile to almost everyone. The only person who puts up with Leslie is her friend, Katie Kincaid; this bestie is about as loyal as loyal gets. But underneath all Leslie's bravado is a lonely girl, seeking acceptance from her peers.
Leslie feels misunderstood by her parents, and overprotected by her mother. Life is no better at school; she refuses to do her homework, and is a frequent visitor to the principal's office.
Her school work suffers.
The only homework she completes is a journaling project assigned by her English teacher. Miss Graham assures the class she will not read the journals; they will remain private. Leslie faithfully journals and actually enjoys it.
She writes everything about life and love: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Leslie's world is rocked when a new boy comes to school. Jason McCready, a senior, is cute, cool, and clever. Appearances can be deceiving, though; this kid is definitely not the boy next door. He knows how to put on the charm, and Leslie is smitten at first sight. He lays claim to the very vulnerable girl, and her life becomes a living nightmare.
Their intense relationship turns violent, and she realizes she is in over her head. Leslie confides in her friend. Katie promises not to tell anyone about the abuse.
Miss Graham becomes ill and is replaced by a substitute. The new teacher is unaware the journals are private and collects them. Leslie's deepest, darkest secrets are exposed.
Leslie is summoned to the school office where the teacher and principal are waiting. This turn of events brings the drama to a climax.
Our protagonist digs deep and finds the courage to face her tormentor. She seeks justice for herself and other girls he has victimized.
Mr. Stratton, once again, brings social issues to our attention.
The book contains mature material. He skillfully weaves date rape, drugs, stalking, cyber bullying, and physical abuse into one cohesive storyline.
The author has a knack for getting into the head of his characters. His portrayal of a teenage girl is spot on. I loved Katie, the BFF; she was sweet, sincere and a bit quirky.
I have read other books by Mr. Stratton. (Webmaster's note: Karen reviewed Chanda's Secrets, a more recent book that has received a lot of attention.) Leslie was not my personal favorite, but I do appreciate the relevance of the subject matter.
Leslie's Journal is an excellent choice for teens currently in a relationship, or those thinking about dating. Parents would also benefit reading about the growing problem of boyfriend abuse. I recommended this book to my sixteen-year-old granddaughter, who recently started dating.
Read more of Karen's reviews.
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