It takes courage to talk about teen insecurity, anger, depression, and drug use. While many of us have personal experience, either in our own family or that of a friend’s or neighbor’s, the topic all too often remains taboo. And when that struggle ends in an untimely death, writers often shy away from this subject. But not educator/writer/reviewer/radio show host Fran Lewis.
In “Bad Choices,” the second installment of “Faces Behind the Stones” series, the author takes us on a frightening trip through a cemetery. Although we get to ride in a luxury limousine, it is our fate to have to listen to the sad voices behind the stones. In all of the stories, the characters find themselves in situations with which they are unable to cope. By the time we have finished our rollercoaster ride of self-destruction and even murder, we will have heard from fourteen voices that are no longer with us. They’re mostly teens from all walks of life. Some suffer from poor self image because they’re not rich enough or not popular enough while others are too rich and too popular. All of them lacked parents or teachers who had the wisdom and the strength to interfere before these young people’s lives derailed. And all of them had peers who caused or added to their troubles. What might have saved these kids?
While Fran Lewis’s book is entertaining fiction, at the same time it’s a cautionary tale. I recommend this book to parents and especially their teenage children. Even if you have not battled rage, depression, and alcohol- or drug addiction as the characters in these stories have, knowing the bad choices these faces behind the stones made could cause you to be more mindful of how fragile life is, and how hurtful even one unkind word can be.
— Irma Fritz
Edition #36 – May 12, 2013
By Fran Lewis
Teens have it really hard today. I should know; I am one and I never thought I would survive being thirteen, but I did. Life changes when you enter your teens. The friends you had in elementary school either move or decide they don’t need you anymore. Others try and influence you to do things their way…and that is where my problems started. I’m an A student, or at least I was until I decided to forget who I was and become someone I wasn’t.
My best friend Iris was still doing well in school, and we used to hang out together after school to do homework. But her mother was strict, just like mine, and wanted her to devote all of her time to studying alone and cultivating other friendships; that left me, Benita, behind. So, I decided if Iris and her group did not want to hang with me anymore I would find others that would.
But first, let me explain. The driver will take you around the cemetery and help you to understand what happened to each of the thirteen other teens who are now the Faces Behind the Stones. I am the voice behind the first stone. You will have heard from fourteen voices by the time this story is done. Author Fran Lewis will allow you, the reader, to hear through me and these other troubled teens, the pressures we endured and the reasons why we are no longer here.
The First Stone: Benita
Hear my voice as I relate this first story.
Pressures: Not rich enough, not stylish enough, not the right clothes.
I am the first face behind the stone.
No matter how hard I tried I never really made the cut with the popular girls. I never felt like I belonged to any one group. My parents were not rich, but we didn’t starve. My dad was a dry cleaner and did fairly well. We had many of the same phones, games, and flat-screen televisions most other kids had, but with one exception— we earned these things ourselves. My dad believed, and still believes, in hard work, and paid us to work in his store on the weekends. Each summer we had to find jobs or go to school. There were no free rides or long summer vacations, but we still had fun.
Wearing the right clothes and being popular mattered to me; being able to go to parties and dress like the other girls would have been great too.
But, money was tight and I never really went to the finer stores to shop, so my clothes did not have the labels that others did. I wore clothes from department stores, thrift shops and sometimes my mom shopped online for something she thought I might like or want. But Nordstrom’s, Macys, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Express, which are stores I would have loved to shop in, were not labels on the clothes that I wore.
Fran Lewis worked in the NYC Public Schools as the Reading and Writing Staff Developer for over 36 years. She has three masters Degrees and a PD in Supervision and Administration.
Currently, she is a member of Who’s Who of America’s Teachers and Who’s Who of America’s Executives from Cambridge.
In addition, she is the author of three children’s books and a fourth that has just been published on Alzheimer’s disease in order to honor her mom and help create more awareness for a cure.
Other books by Fran Lewis include:
Bertha and Tillie – Sisters Forever
Sharp As A Tack or Scrambled Eggs: Which Describes Your Brain?
Because We Care
My Name is Bertha
Bertha Fights Back
Bertha Speaks Out
Faces Behind the Stones