The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults

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  • a worthy if imperfect initial read on how the teenage mind works
  • one particularly hot-button topic goes completely unaddressed by the author
  • certain readers may take issue with its opinionated, sometimes scaremongering approach on parenting in light of scientific findings

The Teenage Brain: only the Mary Celeste and the Loch Ness Monster remain bigger unsolved mysteries!

In this title, celebrated neuroscientist Frances Jensen aims to do a generation of frustrated parents and educators a tremendous favor in bringing clarity to the whirling storm of hormones and growing pains that takes the form of the modern-day teenager.

And chapters like “The Digital Invasion of the Teenage Brain,” “Pot,” and “Crime and Punishment” ostensibly offer henpecked mothers and fathers scientifically-based catnip in comprehending their youth. But although Jensen brings the neurological heat in explicating the whys and wherefores of teenage brain development, she missteps in her attempt to balance hardcore facts with homespun sweetness and an alarmist tone that cooler-headed parents might dismiss.

Most jarringly of all, Jensen all but skips the birds and the bees, the pink elephant in the room, the “talk,” all euphemisms more descriptive about their subject than The Teenage Brain‘s take, or lack thereof, on the hot topic. Such an exclusion immediately hinders the book’s overall impact and value for parents who’d like their children to concentrate more on their SATs and not so much on that other three-letter word.

Taken with a grain of salt, The Teenage Brain brings some valuable scientific fodder to the dinner conversation. But readers should expect to be left furrowing their brows over Jensen’s imperfect effort to confirm in which cortex does their teens’ angst originate.