5M4B disclosure


The first thing I noticed when I saw the trailer for the movie Men, Women & Children earlier in the fall was the casting of Ansel Elgort in one of the main roles. My teenage son noticed the same thing, and as we had only recently re-watched The Fault in Our Stars on DVD, we were both intrigued. The trailer made me think that the film might be another movie to view with my son, especially as it focused, at least in part, on relationships among teenagers. What I didn’t realize at that point was that the film was an adaptation of Chad Kultgen’s 2011 book of the same name- Men, Women & Children.

While I didn’t get to see the film when it had a limited run in our area some weeks back, I am looking forward to seeing it when it comes out on DVD next month. Interestingly enough, I was made even more interested in the film after reading the book this week… and maybe not for the reasons one might think.

I can’t say that I enjoyed reading this book, even though I would rate it quite highly. Honestly, I found the novel highly disturbing and troubling to read, but that’s because the subject matter addressed here was highly personal and so explicitly detailed. While the details were most definitely disturbing, the overall conclusions that can be made about the characters’ relationships– and by extension, the relationships we may be involved in ourselves, as well– were the scariest of all. This novel explores serious and interwoven themes such as sexuality, sexual relationships, self-image, and communication among the adults and young teenagers who serve as the large cast of characters, and Kultgen does not hold back in the least.

The story is told through a detached narrator, a voice that displays no emotion, no judgment, but simply lays out each scene in quite explicit detail, including sexual encounters of varying degrees of consent, with some encounters between people in relationships and others with little or no emotional attachment at all. The narrator format, especially in its detachment, for me at least, served to heighten the disturbing factor, in that no voice of reason spoke to the sadness and destructiveness of so many behaviors chosen by the characters. So why a high rating, then? The writing is gripping, the subject matter is important, and the delivery is intended to make us uncomfortable, I think. Mission accomplished. 

Though I’ve concluded that it best I watch the film on DVD on my own to decide if it’s appropriate fare for my teenage son, I am quite anxious to see how the book translates to the screen. Looking at the cast listing online, I see that Emma Thompson is listed as The Narrator. I’m curious to see how that form of storytelling will look on film, and if the same level of detached and nonjudgmental tone will be achieved. I predict that the overall feeling of the film will continue to be serious, but I imagine that there will be much less of the explicit content that was detailed in the book. Hopefully, the film will be able to still convey the same intense and thought-provoking statements about what it can mean to be an adolescent interacting with the amount of technology at our fingertips, and what effects those same media can have on adult relationships.

Haven’t seen the trailer? Check it out below:

Have you read the book or seen the movie? I’d love to hear your thoughts. (And your reassurance that it’s all going to be okay as a parent of three kids!)



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For Goodness Sex: Changing the Way We Talk to Teens About Sexuality, Values, and Health

You know that image of the blundering, uncomfortable parent trying to have “the talk” with his or her teenager? There are countless reinforcements of that stereotype in our society, especially in pop culture, but I’ve always believed it didn’t have to be that way. From a young age, I opted to use correct terminology when talking with my kids about their body parts. I would joke that we don’t tell our babies that they smell with their “sniffers,” but instead call it a nose, so why would I feel the need to come up with a cutesy name for my son’s penis or my daughter’s vulva? I’ve tried to retain that openness and candor with my kids as they’ve grown, and with my oldest now
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Encouraging Reading with Magazine Baskets {On Reading}

My oldest child has been a book lover from early on. As an infant, he would look up as I showed him board book after board book held above us as we lay on the living room floor. Even with his active nature, as a preschooler, he would sit on my lap for picture book read alouds. Now that he’s a teen, he’s still a big reader, but if left to his own devices, I’m fairly certain that he’d read nothing but Marvel comics. If I pick up novels from the teen section at the library, he’ll read them. If I stack newly released YA books on his desk, he’ll grab them eventually. But what I’ve come to really appreciate is the power of a
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5 Reasons to Give Books This Holiday Season {Friday’s Five}

‘Tis the season again to exchange gifts with loved ones, and if you’re anything like me, you’re in the middle of making lists of items purchased and ideas for gifts not yet secured. As you make those lists, and check them way more than two times, I’m here to not-so-subtly suggest that you be sure to include the wonderful gifts of books, of course! Maybe you’re shopping for excited young children, too-cool-for-school teens, a special significant other, or that wacky aunt who will be the highlight of your family’s holiday meal. It doesn’t matter who is on your list, I’m confident that you can’t go wrong with a book, and here are five reasons, completely made up by me. 1. Entertaining AND educational is a win-win. Just
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Smithsonian Discover and Young Explorers Series #Giveaway

If you’re still on the hunt for educational holiday gift ideas for the elementary school aged children in your life, the Smithsonian Discover and Young Explorers series give glimpses into themes of their world famous museums in book and puzzle form. Smithsonian Discover: Flight and Smithsonian Discover: Space are fabulous gifts for enthusiastic learners from about age 8 and up. Mixing historical information about the history of flight and scientific explanations for how various flight machines work, along with models for paper airplanes and even a large poster celebrating the concept of flight, Flight is a wonderful hands-on resource perfect for the emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. Space follows the same format with the inclusion of fact cards and a poster, as well, with the focus on aspects
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Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler. For many, many people, myself included, Amy Poehler is a comedy genius. Some know her best from Saturday Night Live, and the image of her as an exasperated Hillary Clinton next to Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin will never be forgotten. Others came to adore her as Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation. The true-blue fans from way back will cite her brilliance as a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade, a comedy troupe who had their own show on Comedy Central in the late 1990s. Regardless of your familiarity level with any of her work, picking up her (not-exactly-a) memoir is a fabulous idea. If Yes Please isn’t exactly a memoir, then what is it? Yes, the majority of the book is comprised of personal stories, but there’s a
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Last Train to Babylon

The opening of Charlee Fam’s debut novel Last Train to Babylon is somewhat hazy. It’s the kind of prologue that drops hints and bits and pieces of the story yet to come in a way that doesn’t make complete sense on the first read through, but when you later realize the seriousness of the scene, you get a hit-in-the-gut delayed reaction. As the novel progresses, the intensity increases while still maintaining a level of dark humor to balance out the seriousness of the story. Upon finding out that her high school best friend has died of a likely suicide, Aubrey Glass finds herself focused on her annoyance at her mother’s overly sentimental phone conversation. Dismissing her school guidance counselor mother’s barely veiled attempts at evoking some sort
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Revisit Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer with Penguin Classics

When was the last time you read Mark Twain’s classics Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or The Adventures of Tom Sawyer? I’m fairly certain I read Huck Finn’s story way back in high school, but I don’t think it really struck a chord with me until a few years later. I attended Elmira College, a small school in western New York located in the town in which Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) resided for many summers with his wife’s family who hailed from Elmira. Every day, I would walk past an octagonal study relocated to campus from the land on which the family lived, and it was thrilling to know that Clemens wrote some of his best work inside that little building, including these two novels. Each of the new Penguin Classics editions feature an introduction
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Animal Teachers

In the nonfiction picture book Animal Teachers, author Janet Halfmann introduces young readers to twelve different groups of animal parents and children. Beginning by pointing out to readers that parents and caregivers are their first teachers, parallels are then made to the ways in which animal parents teach their little ones skills or habits that are essential to each particular type of creature. The animals chosen for inclusion in this nonfiction book are widely varied, including some exotically wild ones like emperor penguins and cheetahs, and more domestic or familiar animals such as chickens and beavers. Each animal is depicted in attractive and realistic watercolor illustrations by Katy Hudson that portray their natural habitats well. What really appealed to me as a parent and early childhood educator was
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Snowman’s Story

A tall black top hat falls from an owl’s talons just as some woodland creatures are building a snowman. After a fluffy red scarf is put in place to accompany the hat, the now-animated snowman is handed a book, and the bear, bird, fox, and rabbit wait for the story to begin. Snowman’s Story by Will Hillenbrand presents a wordless adventure showing just how far some creatures will go for a good book. The rabbit perched inside the hat atop the snowman’s head is attentively listening to the story on that beautifully snowy cover illustration. But then sleepiness overcomes everyone, and as the creatures begin to settle in for the night, the rabbit gets a sneaky-eyed look on its face… and snatches the book right out
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Hank Has a Dream #Giveaway

Looking for a new bedtime story for your little ones? Hank Has a Dream by Rebecca Dudley brings back the delightfully adorable Hank, a stuffed woodland creature who showed his compassionate side in Hank Finds an Egg (linked to my brief review). This time around, Hank is telling a friend about his magical dream, and the meticulously detailed dioramas that provide the images in the book add greatly to the magic factor. You’ll want to hear more about this picture book, so head over to read my full review on 5 Minutes for Mom today. Be sure to view the video trailer for this imaginative book, and enter to win a copy, too.  
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Behold! The Dinosaurs!

Dinosaurs can be awfully fascinating to some children, and books and toys featuring the ancient creatures range from straightforwardly informational to outright silly. A new (sort-of) book by Dustin Harbin, Behold! The Dinosaurs!, presents over 100 dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures from the Devonian to the Cretaceous periods in eye-popping drawings. Did you catch how I called it a “sort-of” book? Well, I have to admit that I learned something new when I received this publication in the mail and I saw it referred to as both a leporello and concertina, and I was compelled to look up the terms before I opened the book. All I would have had to do was open the cover and see the fold-out pages, which measure more than six
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