When I was a high school librarian, I spent a lot of time trying to educate my students on Internet safety.  (I honestly don’t know how successful I was.  It’s been my experience that most teenagers don’t really think about being safe online or how much trouble they could potentially get into.)  I taught them that once you put something on the web, it’s there forever; what they say or post could get them into trouble; and some of their actions could be deemed illegal.  I was mostly referring to illegally downloading music, but I’m sure that several of my students were, shall we say, appreciating each others’ bodies more than was appropriate.  (I have no proof.  I just want to make that clear.)

Anyway, my latest read, an advanced reader’s copy of Exposure by Therese Fowler, jumps into what some teens are really doing on the Internet or with their personal electronic devices.  This book deals candidly with the issue of sexting.  It reveals the very real consequences of this issue, especially when there are underage people involved.  It doesn’t really matter if the people involved are in love, as they are in this book.  Exposure is, to me, a Romeo and Juliet story for the digital age.  Forces are at work–stupidity, parents, the law, public opinion–that are threatening to drive a young couple apart.  Will they go the same road as young Romeo and Juliet?  You’ll have to read to find out.

Amelia and Anthony are in love.  Yes, she’s seventeen, and he’s eighteen, but age is just a number.  Right?  These two young lovers are determined to spend their lives together, no matter what people say.  And people, especially Amelia’s father, have plenty to say…especially when he finds nude pictures of Anthony on Amelia’s computer.  As a father who is convinced his daughter can do no wrong, Harlan Wilkes just knows that Anthony is trying to corrupt his perfect little girl.  There’s no way she would willingly have these explicit images on her computer.  So he does what most concerned fathers would do.  He calls the police.

One phone call.  One phone call to the police, and everything spins out of control.  Anthony is completely villified, but Amelia doesn’t escape unscathed herself.  Even Anthony’s mom is caught up in this storm.  It seems there is no escape from this maelstrom…or is there?  Is there a way for Anthony and Amelia to get out of this mess?  What will it cost them?  What is the price to be paid for the recklessness of youth?  Read Exposure by Therese Fowler to find out.

Exposure is a very powerful book, particularly because it presents the story not only from Amelia and Anthony’s perspectives but also because it gives a look into what their parents are thinking and going through.  And even though the ending is a wee bit unrealistic, I think this story will resonate with both teens and parents on the issues of sexting and using technology responsibly.

Exposure is scheduled to be released on May 3rd, and I strongly encourage teens and parents of teens to pick it up.  For more information about Exposure and author Therese Fowler, visit http://theresefowler.com/.

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