An Intimate Understanding of America's Teenagers
Shaking Hands with Aliens
by Bruce J. Gevirtzman
August 2008, 288pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Paperback: 978-0-313-34508-1
$25, £20, 22€, A35
eBook Available: 978-0-313-34509-8
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

A veteran high school teacher experienced with more than 8,000 students takes us on an absorbing journey, close-up with teenagers sharing their loves, hates, fears, fantasies, pain, pressures, dreams, and desires.

Alicia is so obsessed with being popular, she does things that would shock her parents, if they knew. Hector is aware the gang that wants him to join may be the death of him, but he will not decline. Sam was a baseball star, but can’t play the sport he loves anymore because he is wracked from football injuries, a sport his father will not let him quit. They are just a few of the teenagers that readers will meet, in this candid book authored by a 34-year veteran high school teacher. Voted Teacher of the Year and Coach of the Year, Bruce Gevirtzman shares with us the results of his years spent talking with teenagers about topics from life and lust to depression and death. Revealing honest, poignant words shared in conversations, classroom talk, interviews, surveys, and journals, Gevirtzman takes us inside the minds of today’s youths, and also contrasts them with teenagers of decades past. Topics include teen thinking and secrets on issues from sex, drinking, and drugs to peer pressure, self-imposed standards, and beliefs about what is important, and painful, in life.

Including interviews with fellow teachers, Gevirtzman’s book is threaded with one recurring truth: Sadly, instead of parents and teachers and lawmakers and the public looking out for our kids, today’s kids are largely left to fend for themselves, he concludes. Not only will general readers and educators find great insight in this work, it will be of interest to students and scholars of adolescent psychology, clinical psychology, and social work.

Reviews

"Gevirtzman uses entertaining and enlightening student interviews, surveys, conversations, classroom discussions, and recreated scenarios from his four-decade teaching career to assist readers in better understanding contemporary adolescents."—VOYA, January 1, 2009

"Gevirtzman understands adolescents. In this sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic, always informative work, the author (a high school English teacher who for years has been involved with adolescents in various capacities) introduces readers to the wonderful individuals he has come to know. . . . A must read, this is a how-to manual for understanding adolescents and inviting them into adult life...Essential. All readers, all levels."—Choice, February 1, 2009

"Bruce Gevirtzman shares the results of his years spent talking with teenagers about topics from life and lust to depression and death. Revealing honest, poignant words shared in conversations, classroom talk, interviews, surveys, and journals, Gevirtzman takes us inside the minds of today's youths, and also contrasts them with teenagers of decades past. Topics include teen thinking and secrets on issues from sex, drinking, and drugs, to peer pressure, self-imposed standards, and beliefs about what is important, and painful, in life."—Adolescence, June 26, 2009

"In his very effective storytelling style, [Gevitzman] relates many moving, thoughtful, and sometimes very funny and heartwarming stories about teens. . . . This title is filled with many useful and helpful suggestions for parents, teachers, others who work with teens, and even teens themselves. . . . This is an easy reading text that will be beneficial for parents of teens or for those who work closely with teens."—Catholic Library World, June 1, 2009

"Revealing honest, poignant words shared in conversations, classroom talk, interviews, surveys, and journals, Gevirtzman takes us inside the minds of today's youths, and also contrasts them with teenagers of decades past."—Family Therapy, November 23, 2009

"Bruce Gevirtzman has the remarkable ability to understand the teenagers he has mentored over the last four decades. I know because in 1973 he taught me to think, speak, write, and critically read about a world that seemed so confusing. His wisdom and his passion have left an indelible mark on every teenager who has had the fortune to step into his classroom. His book will guide teachers and parents to realize that they must listen to the children they have been blessed with and help them to be rooted when the winds of adolescence challenge them. Bruce Gevirtzman is to teaching as Dr. Mary Pipher is to the girls she counsels in Reviving Ophelia."—Bob Pacilio, Chair English Mt. Carmel High School, CA

"Bruce Gevirtzman knows more about the thoughts of teenagers than most care to. His writing is both humorous and poignant and his lessons teach what seems to be the impossible lesson for many teens to learn today: to think. This book is a must read for veteran teachers and new teachers, as well as parents and future parents."—Steve Cisneros, Artistic Director, Phantom Projects Educational Theatre Group

"For three decades, Bruce Gevirtzman has made a difference in kids' lives--helping them to become good people and good citizens. It would be enough that he has a living legacy by virtue of the thousands of lives he has improved with his teaching and mentoring; but now, thanks to this masterful book, many more thousands of young people (and their parents) will benefit from Bruce's wisdom."—Jay Boyarsky, Prosecutor, Palo Alto, CA

"Parents, teachers, and educators would be doing themselves a great disservice if they did not take advantage of the opportunity to learn the lessons and experiences Gevirtzman shares with the world in this book. It is the legacy of a remarkable teacher and a truly good man."—Nermin Kamel, Teacher, La Mirada High School, California

"Bruce knows as much about teenagers as any other man in America. His insights are provocative, and his storytelling is often moving. Add to this some very funny moments, and you have one heck of a read!"—Howard Haas, Internationally known educator, Author of the critically acclaimed book, Listen to Our Children

"Master teacher Bruce Gevirtzman has influenced and impacted thousands of students during his stellar career."—Rabbi Lawrence Goldmark, Executive Director, Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis, La Miranda, California

"When it comes to getting inside the mind of a teenager, few other books offer insights like those you will find in this book!"—Bruce Sussman, Chief Meteorologist, CBS Affiliate, Portland, Oregon
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