February 7th, 2011

Ever wonder why teens make poor decisions when they are around their friends?

Ever wonder why teens make poor decisions when they are around their friends? It turns out that just thinking their friends are watching them causes teens to take more risks. The New York Times reports, “It was as if the presence of friends, even in the next room, prompted the brain’s reward system to drown out any warning signals about risk, tipping the balance toward the reward. “The presence of peers activated the reward circuitry in the brain of adolescents that it didn’t do in the case of adults,” said Laurence Steinberg, an author of the study.”

Since it sounds like teens are hard-wired in a way that adults aren’t, I wonder if there’s any way to change it?

However, when I told Teen about the study, she saw it in a different way. She felt the teens, knowing there was no risk to driving poorly in the driving simulator, felt driven to take more chances so they would entertain their friends. She felt that in real life they would weigh the real risks differently.

Read more here.



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How Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter came to be

An AP article on Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: A Novelbegins, “When author Tom Franklin submitted the first 80 pages of his new novel, "Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter," to his literary agent, he got an alarming response. Nat Sobel would fly down. Immediately.”

Since I’ve known people whose agents have flown out with really great news I didn’t find it alarming. But then the article goes on to say that the agent staged what was nearly an intervention - telling Franklin that most of his book (which had long been under contract) was no good.

The books about two boys - one white and one black - who are friends as children thirty years ago and then grow apart as teens. Then the white boy takes a girl on a date to a drive-in movie -only she never comes back from the date. He is the prime suspect, but there isn’t enough evidence to charge him. Cut to now: the white man is an outcast and loner, the black man a constable.

And then another girl disappears.

The title comes from a pneumonic device used to teach children how to spell Mississippi: M, I, crooked-letter, crooked-letter, I, crooked-letter, crooked-letter, I, humpback, humpback, I.

Read more about Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter here.

I really liked the book, although there was one plot point I felt didn’t ring true. If you’ve read the book and would like to talk about it, let me know.



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