Read It's Complicated: The American Teenager by Robin Bowman Robert Coles Online


Robin Bowman’s five-year journey into the heart of teenage America created a series of 414 “collaborative portraits,” wherein she shares her discoveries of a generation now coming of age. In searing and intimate photographs, presented alongside the young people’s voices of passion, pride, embarrassment, lust, pain, bewilderment, anxiety, joy, uncertainty, and rage, the booRobin Bowman’s five-year journey into the heart of teenage America created a series of 414 “collaborative portraits,” wherein she shares her discoveries of a generation now coming of age. In searing and intimate photographs, presented alongside the young people’s voices of passion, pride, embarrassment, lust, pain, bewilderment, anxiety, joy, uncertainty, and rage, the book charts the coming of age of the largest generation in America—77 million strong—in every region of the country and every socioeconomic group: from a Texas debutante to teenage gang members in New York City, from a drag queen in Georgia to a coal miner in West Virginia.Bowman’s intimate photographs ask us to reconcile preconceived ideas and stereotypes of teenagers with the diversity of individuals in the portraits. This book and the traveling exhibition it accompanies are about the inside lives of these kids and how they see their reality in their own voices.Robin Bowman, a 2005 W. Eugene Smith Memorial fellow, is a photojournalist based in Portland, Maine.Dr. Robert Coles is the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of the Children of Crisis series and a Harvard emeritus professor of psychiatry....

Title : It's Complicated: The American Teenager
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781884167690
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 160 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

It's Complicated: The American Teenager Reviews

  • Cara
    2019-02-14 07:50

    It's complicated. Very fitting words for this book. It really is complicated and interesting. When I say interesting I mean it; I promise I'm not using it as a placeholder. Some of the teenagers were shallow, some were deep. Some I liked, some I hated. Some still believed in the American dreams, some thought it was dead. Some were cynical, some were hopeful. Some were rich, some were poor. Some were mature, some were immature. Some gave teens a bad rep, some helped teens look intelligent. In conclusion the whole thing was diverse and showed a fairly close representation of the teens of America.While I was reading it I could tell there was a lot of work put into this. From the questions, to the style of pictures. I know some people didn't care for the style but I liked it. Using only black and white represented that even though all the individuals were different they still were equal in a sense. All their stories were important regardless if you could connect with them or not. I would have liked to have seen how the photographer meet the teens and what the teens were doing at the time when she took their pictures. One of the problems I had with this book was that I felt like some people came off worse on paper than they actually were. She wrote word for word what they said so it's hard to tell what expressions they had. A documentary could have captured that. Bowman did the best she could to give a fair representation of everyone, but I still think some teens didn't get a lot of coverage. It's understandable though, there is only so many people she could hunt down. Other than that though this was done well. It showed the truth of what young America is like. It's complicated but not necessarily in a bad way. Our diversity is what makes us strong.Oh yeah be forewarned there is a nudist among the photos on page...81. I had a handful of favorites but my ultimate favorite person was on page 84.

  • Alicia
    2019-02-20 04:26

    What a unique and troubling and magical nonfiction book. As the foreword mentions, Bowman was intrigued by teenagers' conversations at a cabin weekend retreat that she delved into a picture and interview quest that resulted in 419 pictures and interview of teenagers across the United States. From homeless to Christian, teen moms to debutantes, this book is generally more depressing than uplifting. She asks them the same 26 questions and then chose a verbatim excerpt of the interview to publish. While not all 419 interviews are there, the photos are-- some collages and most others full-page with the interview excerpt. Interestingly, Bowman chose many quotes about teens whose parents had divorced-- product of the time period? Certainly. The photos are breathtaking (she includes that the picture was always taken first with the interview last-- which makes it more potent). Many also illustrate teenagers' dichotomies-- I don't want to work hard but I want to be a doctor. I didn't want to be a pregnant teen but I am one. I hate my parents, but I'll be a damn fine one. Thoroughly enjoyed it and can see using the 26 questions and the book for a class project to understand students' better. Or, to think about what your teen self would have answered and how you would answer as an adult.

  • Cate
    2019-02-01 01:51

    4Q 3P JSThis book is a compilation of photographs and interviews with teens from all across America. In 2002, photographer Robin Bowman grabbed her camera, hopped in her car, and went on a road trip across the United States. She stopped along the way to photograph and interview over 400 teens. She asked them lots of questions about their interests and opinions, what their lives were like, and what they hoped their lives would become. The book includes a wide variety of teens, some of whom have very difficult lives and others who seem isolated from many of the world’s problems. All of them have something to say. This is a good book for a teen who does not want to read lots of text. The photos are intriguing and draw readers in, making them want to know more about the person behind the picture. Bowman only includes part of her extensive interview, so there are many unanswered questions. Apart from being a quick and visually appealing read, the book can promote the developmental need of teens to learn about and respect people who come from different backgrounds. Some of the stories are incredibly sad and could help readers understand where they are coming from and why they made that decision, instead of automatically judging them.

  • Claire
    2019-01-28 05:43

    I have always loved learning about diverse people, and this book only encouraged it. This book also introduced me to types of people I had never even known of before which made it very enjoyable. As a teenager, it was easy to read this book because I feel a connection with these kids: even though no one specific person is asking me the 26 questions, I still have to answer them. Life asks you and makes you answer these questions. I would love to return to this book in about 30 years or so to see how I view these teenagers from an older perspective and how I would change (or wouldn't change) my own answers to the 26 questions.

  • Arminzerella
    2019-02-15 07:43

    Robin Bowman photographed and interviewed hundreds of teenagers across America. She took pictures of them in their *natural* habitats and asked them all a series of 26 questions about their lives and thoughts, then paired the photos with excerpts from these interviews. Some of the questions she asked them were: What is one of the biggest things that has ever happened to you and how did it change your life? What makes you the happiest? What is your biggest fear? What is the toughest thing about being a teenager and why? What do you like most about yourself? Do you believe in God? Have you ever personally suffered from discrimination? If you could be someone else in the world, who would it be and why? Where were you on September 11, 2001? After reading the foreword, I expected to find something really amazing in the words of these young people, and the overall impression I left with is that most of them are just getting started - they don’t know what their lives will be like, and they’re still in the process of becoming individuals. There were so many who were seemingly obsessed with materialism (big house, tons of cars, cute kids, all the best stuff), or religion (God is the most important person in my life and my parents have brought me up to believe this), or whose dreams were so…ridiculously fantastical or trivial sounding. And that’s fine, I guess, but it made me wonder why we’re here to live and want these most ordinary things – can’t we do better than this? I didn’t read the actual questions Robin asked until after I’d read the book, so my initial impression was that these were the subjects that the kids had chosen to talk about, when in reality their words were in response to what they were asked – and the excerpts are what Robin chose to present. I understand the teens’ *answers* a little better now that I’ve read the kinds of questions they were asked. Robin states that she “[W:]as not there to judge these kids or rescue them. My intent wasn’t even to definitively answer any questions, only to ask them and record the response. These young people will change and grow and, I hope, become who they want to become. What we see and hear in this book merely records a moment in time when our paths crossed” (p. 10). I hope she’s right.The photos, however, really are amazing – black and white with high contrast, really capturing the expressions of the teens and their environments. Robin took polaroids, so the kids could see what the pictures looked like right away. And they got to help decide how they would appear. Teens will probably enjoy looking through this – not sure how much of it they’ll actually read.

  • Terri
    2019-02-03 01:50

    This title has been coming up a lot lately on "Best" lists, in reviews, etc. What a great surprise! It has the feel of books like "PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives," "My Secret: A PostSecret Book," and "I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous and Obscure." It is an edgy, raw, honest, compelling look into the lives of contemporary teens. "It's Complicated" includes beautiful, artistic photography and word-for-word responses to the 26 interview questions Bowman asked them. A broad spectrum of viewpoints are represented in terms of age, geography, culture, beliefs, class, sexuality, ability, interests, etc. There is language; frank discussion of sex, drugs, and alcohol; and one nude photo. As a teen librarian, it bugs me that some authors insist on including just that one thing that pushes a book over the edge. This one photo, which is not sexual or sexy or gratuitous, could be the one reason that the book may not appear in some teen libraries! Extremely unfortunate.My favorite piece in the book is that of Ajani Benjamin, age 19 from Jamaica, Queens, New York. He is black, gay, adopted, intelligent, involved, wise, well-spoken! WOW! There IS hope for our future!This is a must-read for anyone who has or works with teens!

  • Shannen Gamboa
    2019-02-21 04:38

    This book was one of my favorite books of ALL TIME. i loved reading about all of the different teenagers around the nation. They were all so completely different and had such great thoughts. Some kids were rich and spoiled while others were poor, pregnant, and unfortunate. it was amazing to hear about all of thier lives. it really does show that the teenage life is "complicated". i liked the opinions on sex, drugs, politics, and religion. they were topics that i wanted to hear opinions about. Ii felt like i was listening to each teen tell me thier life story and goals. I LOVED the photographs. robin bowman captured the light and life of teens through his lenses. I enjoyed this book and recommend any teen who feels alone and troubeled to read this book. it will make your life seem a little less dim. anyone can pick this book up. it was amazing.

  • Katie
    2019-02-22 06:49

    This book was amazing. I actually got a chance to meet with the author a few weeks ago and her story is amazing. the relationships that she made with these teenagers is fascinating and she keeps in touch with many of them. Basically the book is a series of photographs of teenagers in America. After she photographed them, she interviewed them and was shocked at how much the teenagers opened up to her. I started reading this book and found it very hard to put down. The stories of each of these teens is amazing and it is hard to realize what other people go through at such a young age. Robin is an amazing photographer and I think that this book is a huge success. I definitely recommend it to anyone, any age. I just bought a copy for my Grandparents.

  • Joella
    2019-02-22 07:36

    This was an interesting read for me. Over 400 teens were interviewed, and all asked the same questions. The 26 questions are great starting points for getting to know someone. However, our library has cataloged this as an adult nonfiction. There are a lot of things in here that some teens deal with that are a bit hard-edged. But, it is something that is in the world of teens--even though somepeople might wish to protect teens from the darker bits and pieces. Some good, some gritty, some I wish didn't have to happen to teens. An interesting look at life around the country. Great photography. Do I like this? Yes, but--"it's complicated."

  • Rob
    2019-02-09 02:26

    I was very impressed with this collection of photos, the photos really capture the emotion/condition of teenagers in america. In addition to the excellent photography, Bowman includes interviews with each photo--which further illustrates the lives of these teenagers. The premise of this book is really simple--black and white photos of teenagers, and a brief interview in their own words--but the effect is powerful.

  • Emmy
    2019-02-02 23:42

    Robin Bowman expertly composes images of teenagers across the country on their own terms. Coupled with the excellent photography are essays in which each young person shares a bit about themselves. Whether it be a street kid from Cleveland or a debutante from New Orleans each one is remarkable. Many teenagers will agree, "It's Complicated," as they explore the struggles and triumphs of their peers and adults will appreciate the richness, nuance and diversity captured in each image.

  • Natalie Pietro
    2019-02-13 00:46

    The pictures in this book are great. Its good to see all the different kinda of teens in amaerica. It really shows how different every person can be. Each teen was asking some questions and the best were writen next to there beautiful pictures. All taken on a polorade camara makes the pictures even more special. Quick read but if you just want sit and look at this table top books pictures. They are all diffrent and beautiful.

  • Dolbee
    2019-02-07 23:46

    I am making the case for this book to be included in the 'picture book' category as it is a photo journey into the lives of American teenagers across the country. I think this book could be very useful in the high school classroom to help connect teenagers to other teenagers in different parts of the country. Each photo has a small paragraph telling about the teenager in the photo. It is a beautiful book!

  • Raina
    2019-02-03 04:47

    What an amazing project. I'm so curious how Bowman meet all the kids who she photographed and interviewed. Fascinating portraits (both narrative and photo) of teens from all over the country. I'm eager to compare/contrast with the recent documentaries about teens, and another similar book. Of course, the only conclusion is that there is ridiculous diversity in every generation, but still totally worth a read. Addictive - had a hard time putting it down!

  • Courtney
    2019-01-27 05:33

    this was a fascinating portrait of american teenagers. attention is given to just about every region of the continental u.s. and includes just about every lifestyle imaginable. the photos are compelling, sometimes haunting and often surprising. the essays are brief, but give a little glimpse of each teen's life and philosophy. it is, by turns, scary, smart, hopeful and thoughtful.

  • Bridget
    2019-02-18 05:29

    A gripping look into American teenagers lives. It points out the disparities between those who grew up with privilege and those who did not. It puts names and faces to stories, some just so tragic and others so cliched and others so hopeful. I'd like to own this for my classroom. I think students would really like to see and read it.

  • Debbie
    2019-02-07 05:27

    A collection of black and white photographs and interviews of teens across America. I loved the photos, but the interviews were a mixed bag. They were honest and raw and some were inspiring. But others were ignorant and sad. It's frightening that these are the people who will be caring for me when I'm in a nursing home. We need to do more for our kids now, or be very sorry later.

  • Melissa
    2019-01-26 23:24

    4Q 4P STeens will love this book because the portraits are compelling, the teens' interviews are interesting and insightful, and they will enjoy trying to find teens whose experiences are like their own. This could also be a great tool for an English classroom to start lessons on personal narratives.

  • Margaret
    2019-02-16 02:38

    2009 Top Ten for Young Adults - ALA (yalsa) Very interesting and diverse collection of portraits and viewpoints of teenagers. Their naivete, honesty and wisdom all shine through in the culturally, economically and religiously diverse group of kids. I'd have it in my classroom if not for the photo of the nudist.

  • April
    2019-02-16 06:35

    This big book of photographs had some great pictures but I had hoped for more in the interviews. It is worthwhile and shocking at times but I really was left wanting to know more about the teens. I wanted to know more about the teens story.

  • Alex
    2019-02-10 05:29

    Read this book in 10th grade. It really brought out the fact that I am way different from the "Average Teenager". In my opinion, our 21st century teenagers are not mature enough or not maturing fast enough in my opinion.

  • Michelle
    2019-01-31 00:51

    An amazing photographic composite of Real American Teens across the country. I think most teens will find themselves or someone they know in the pages of this book. Also, lends fascinating insight into "how the other half" lives...whatever your "other half" may be...

  • Rebecca
    2019-02-20 07:37

    This was a fascinating look into a cross section of American teenagers. Bowman doesn't shy away from the blunt honesty the teens give in their interviews and she's managed to bring in almost any culture or ethnicity that would exist in the United States.

  • Heather
    2019-02-06 07:37

    What a cool concept! I loved reading these little blurbs from such a diverse group of teens. Brilliant!

  • Jayla Johnson
    2019-02-15 07:42

    This book is such an unique idea! I loved reading all of the different teenagers' thoughts on the world. Some of them were really inspiring and others...not so much, lol.

  • emma
    2019-02-23 05:46

    is it bad that i wanted to read this bc the guy on the cover is cuteokay well i read itand it was really really cool and inspiring so yeah

  • Kristin
    2019-02-13 02:40

    The photography and the interviews were great. The stories are so diverse and honest, sad, hopeful...

  • Craig
    2019-01-24 02:22

    I feel like I'm not around enough teenagers in my life. It was good to see such a diverse cross-section of teens and hear their stories. Well written and amazing photos.

  • Msbossy
    2019-01-23 00:37

    Nice profile of teenagers across the country.

  • Lisa Sanfilippo
    2019-02-03 01:32

    Not finished yet but so far i love this book. I love photo essays so this was a good fit for me. I love the different backgrounds and perspectives of the kids.