Cover of Positively Teen. Abstract star design

About the Book

Title: Positively Teen
Published: 2019

Cover Story: You Like Books, Right?
Drinking Buddy:
Drinking Doesn’t Make You Look Cool
MPAA Rating:
G for ‘Get Confident, Stupid!’
Talky Talk:
Bonus Factor:
Bromance Status:
Donation Bin

Cover Story: You Like Books, Right?

This is the sort of book your aunt would buy you for your thirteenth birthday, instead of the ten dollar bill in the card she usually sends.

The Deal:

Al Franken as Stuart Smalley

Those upcoming teen years are kind of frightening, aren’t they? You’ll be going to high school, you’ll be making new friends, and be facing all sorts of challenges. Those shows on the television make it seem like your adolescent years will be full of stress. But with author Nicola Morgan’s FLOURISH system (that’s Food, Liquid, Oxygen, Use, Relaxation, Interest, Sleep, Happiness), you can get through this challenging period in your life! Positively Teen makes other teen advice books look like the useless pieces of garbage that they are.

When I received my review copy in the mail, I told my twelve-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Sophie, that I’d ordered it for her. She ran screaming from the room. When I cornered her and began reading it out loud, she went fetal on the couch. I can’t say this was a ringing endorsement.

Sophie: Dad, I positively don’t want to read that.

Drinking Buddy: Drinking Doesn’t Make You Look Cool

Two pints of beer cheersing with a "Denied" stamp over them

The book’s one reference to alcohol:

I know you’re not drinking alcohol, but I want to mention it anyway, so you know for the future. It’s a diuretic as well as having other serious health disadvantages. Alcohol doesn’t count all all toward water intake.

The thing is, this book is boring. Not preachy, not out of touch, just dull. No teen wants to read about the importance of staying hydrated or limiting screen time. They already know this (though may not follow the advice). If you polled every school counselor in the U.S. about what kids need to talk about, I bet very few students ask about whether they need vitamin D supplements in lieu of sunlight.

MPAA Rating: G for ‘Get Confident, Stupid!’

Troy McClure from the Simpsons

The teenage years are scary. Think about the many challenges a person will face for the first time during adolescence:

Peer pressure


Sexual identity



Sexual/domestic assault

The temptation to use drugs/alcohol

Conflict with parents

Conflict with peers

Academic challenges

Fear for the future

Knowledge of one’s mortality

This book addresses none of these, instead focusing on the purely positive. The author gives relevant suggestions, such as drinking a refreshing glass of water (with a little fruit in it!) or writing down three positive things in your life.

But hey, the author has been there. When she was a teen, she…she…hated the shape of her nose!


Chris Farley as Matt Foley

The thing is, your average middle schooler knows that you shouldn’t waste your day staring at your phone, that you should eat healthy, limit caffeine, and get enough sleep and exercise. They’re not going to read a book to confirm this. Instead, they’re going to be asking…negative questions.

What do I do when my boyfriend gets too handsy?

How do I tell my dad I think he drinks too much?

Why don’t I get along with my old friend any more?

How can I help with my family’s financial problems?

Why do I sometimes feel so stupid and ugly?

Where do I go from here?

Honestly, I think this book would make preteens feel worse about themselves, as it implies that no one else has serious problems that can’t be solved with a fruit smoothie and a little meditation.

Bonus Factor: Journaling

Typed paper with 'all work and no play' repeated over and over

The author suggestions keeping a notebook. Not a bad idea. I honestly wish I’d written down more of my thoughts from when I was a teen. The thing is, the exercises are so puerile, they smack of a mandatory assignment for health class:

*Write down whether your mood right now is positive, negative, or neither.

*Identify three good things that happened today.

*Write down what you ate today and see how it stacks up to the USDA food pyramid.

Bromance Status: Donation Bin

Beavis and Butthead surrounded by positive teens

I used to be a middle school librarian. If I had a choice between stocking Positively Teen or the next Hunger Games knock off…I’d hang myself, because I hated working in a middle school.

Literary Matchmaking:

I can’t really find an equivalent, until Morgan writes Positively Bitter and Angry Middle-Aged Man

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the author, but got no money or fresh vegetables.

Remember, Mt. Everest is covered with the corpses of people with can-do, positive attitudes!


Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.