Review: Teen Aged by Jason Singh

Synopsis: Still reeling from tragedy, Johnathan finds himself struggling to finish high school, help his single mother, spend time with his crush, and be the man of a house that he doesn’t own. When life takes another turn, Johnathan is forced to grow up quickly and pay for university himself. Out of nowhere, he takes a job at a long-term care home. Meeting residents from all walks of life and with varying health conditions, he begins to witness the frailty of life firsthand. Facing these challenges, Johnathan learns to appreciate life in a different and interesting way.

Thank you so much to the author for reaching out to me for a review! As mentioned in the synopsis, Teen Aged is about Johnathan (or Johnny), a guy who is dealing with the loss of a parent and financial instability. In order to help support himself, he takes a job at a long-term care home over the summer.

I really appreciated a lot of things in this book. As someone who has an aging grandmother, my family has really had to consider whether or not we’ll be able to take care of her ourselves, or if we need to look into other options. I loved that Singh brings to life the difficult decision some families have to make when it comes to having their loved ones in care homes, and how people are in these homes for so many different reasons. Singh presents a story about a category of people that are often left out of society’s consideration, and really has the great message of respecting and considering our older population. We as a society can do better to support them when they need it.

Another thing that I was happy to see him bring up was the difficulties that families can go through when dealing with grief. It’s not an easy thing to lose a family member, and even harder to make sure that everyone is pleased with decisions concerning the funeral or other events. Seeing how Johnny and his mom had to deal with his uncle and the religious aspects of the funeral was, in my opinion, a great depiction of how grief affects everyone differently. Of course, it also accurately depicted how annoying this could be, but showed that there needs to be tolerance and understanding for how grief can present differently for everyone.

However, I do think that some things could have been handled in a different way, or could have had more resolution. I would have loved to see Johnny go to therapy or reach out for help from his family when we’ve seen him developing a drinking problem throughout the book. I found it kind of strange that this aspect of his story was just dropped, and I think it would have been a nice resolution to have, even if it was just a small line at the end of the book mentioning it. It was a raw and difficult thing to watch Johnny go through, and an accurate coping mechanism that many people turn to. But it would have been nice to see Johnny get more constructive help in addition to this coping mechanism.

Another aspect of the book that kind of irritated me was the ‘I’m so above all of these kids’ mentality that Johnny has towards his peers. He belittles them for wanted to party or do typical teenager stuff, and I find this irritating in a character. I think there are other ways Singh could have reinforced his individuality from other characters, rather than casting Johnny as this person so above the ‘immature behaviour’ of his classmates. Even if he wasn’t interested in partying and hooking up, there wasn’t a need for him to look down on everyone else.

Finally, I wish Singh had done more with the characters in the old age home. I enjoyed meeting them, but they honestly felt more like vignettes than actual characters. Most of them you only meet once or twice, and they end up playing a very short role in the book. Because of this, they feel more like plot devices that are there to teach Johnny specific lessons rather than fleshed out characters. I think introducing them more and then showing how Johnny interacts with them over the course of the book would have helped to deepen our connection with these characters as well as the arc of Johnny’s story.

My overall impression is that Teen Aged was written on a really important topic and I see what Singh was aiming for, but I think some changes to the book’s structure and further development of characters would have really helped make it shine. I want to thank Mr. Singh and Merylee for reaching out to me for a review, and I look forward to seeing what Mr. Singh writes in the future!

Thats all for now ducks, I hope you have a good weekend!
~ Mon

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