Published Online: February 18, 2005
Published in Print: March 1, 2005, as Book Review: What it Takes to Pull Me Through
Book Review

Book Review: What it Takes to Pull Me Through

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

Why Teenagers Get in Trouble and How Four of Them Got Out

by David L. Marcus (Houghton Mifflin, 338 pages, $25)

The adolescents who attend the Academy at Swift River in rural Massachusetts—one of roughly two dozen “emotional growth” schools nationwide—are pretty much everything you wouldn’t want your own children to be: troubled, sexually precocious, and fiercely rebellious. Of the four whom David Marcus portrays in detail in this book, two are so self-centered that they’re almost impossible to like.

What It Takes to Pull Me Through

Still, Swift River, which costs $5,000 a month, strives to get these kids on the straight and narrow by combining a full-fledged academic curriculum with innumerable therapeutic activities. There’s a wilderness adventure, community service in Costa Rica, and a sweat lodge ceremony. During an anger-management workshop, incantations include “I’m angry at you, Dad, for loving my sister so much” and “I’m angry at myself for getting fat.” In another group session, the teenagers forgive those people they’ve blamed for their drug use and other ills. Eighty percent of Swift River’s students also take psychiatric medicines—just in case, one supposes, the other therapies prove less than efficacious.

Marcus writes in the epilogue that most of the kids he followed appear to be doing reasonably well one year after leaving the program. He notes, however, that there’s an absence of solid data about how graduates fare over the long term. And one can’t help wondering about the effectiveness of a therapeutic approach that, like “reality” TV, far too often turns venting and self-revelation into high drama.

Vol. 16, Issue 05, Page 47

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories