Yeah, but I Didn't

Young Adult - Coming of Age
244 Pages
Reviewed on 12/03/2019
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Ann has been a writer since junior high, but to pay the bills she has waited tables, delivered newspapers, cleaned other people's houses, taught school, and had a stint as a secretary in a rock-n-roll radio station. She also worked as a 911 operator and a police dispatcher.
Her fiction began to win awards during her college days. Since then she's published several short stories, novels, and novellas. She’s always reading and always writing, but even if she never sold another story, Ann would not stop writing. For her it's a necessity, like breathing. Most of the time, it even keeps her sane.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Yeah, But I Didn't by Ann Swann is a coming of age novel chronicling a disturbing period in the life of a young girl named Benji (Ben) Stevens. At age 14, Ben has been advanced into high school as a result of a high IQ that pushes her beyond the level of classmates her age. While intellectually she is ahead of even her high school classmates, her young age and vulnerability make her an easy target. Once little more than a wallflower, an assault in her own home after artwork she created at school goes viral means the rumor mill begins to spin out of control. Cyberbullying by classmates and a brutal response from her own older sister Janie at home (compounded by another family tragedy) push Ben over the edge, prompting her to attempt the unthinkable. The road to recovery is difficult to navigate, but Ben and her family do their best to bring stability back into their lives. As they nurse a fragile Ben, each grapples with their own personal traumas and work to make themselves whole once more.

Yeah, But I Didn't is a difficult read due to its subject matter, but timely and relevant against the backdrop of what many teenagers and families experience in their real lives. Ann Swann writes Ben's story in a first-person narrative, allowing a reader to understand her struggles from within and experience the subplots, including an unexpected death and a runaway, as a stunned observer. There are multiple issues that are addressed in a short span of time and that keeps the book rolling forward at a sometimes dizzying pace, but it allows a reader to see how a devastating chain of events can snowball and threaten to crush an entire household. One thing that struck me was Ben's age and her positioning as a high school student at a time when she'd be with students her own age in an environment more suited for a younger teen. It's not an issue I've read much about and there's this feeling that Ben's intellect—her superpower, as she describes it—actually puts her at a disadvantage, throwing a kitten to a pack of wolves because there was literally nowhere else for her education to flourish as it needed. This doesn't factor into the central plot but, as a parent, I felt it intensely. This is a tough read but a good one, and an easy five stars.

K.C. Finn

Yeah, But I Didn’t is a work of teen fiction in the drama and coming of age genres, and was penned by author Ann Swann. Written with a mild caution for scenes of violence and an attempted sexual assault, the central plot focuses on the harrowing experiences of fourteen-year-old Benji Stevens. Falling into circumstances of emotional and physical trauma, a heart-breaking betrayal and a loss of faith in life, love, herself and everyone around her, it will take a real miracle for her to rise up again and be happy. Fortunately, that comes in the shape of some of her family members and those she is referred to for help.

Author Ann Swann delivers a harrowing emotional tale that offers messages of hope and renewal of spirit despite some of the darkest times that life can throw at us. Suitable for teens and adults alike, one of the most accomplished things about the novel is how authentic teenage Benji is in her thoughts, weaknesses, actions, but also in her strength and growth later on. This is a highly realistic portrayal of the devastating effects that dark interventions can have on young, fragile minds, but also an admiration of the strength and power of regrowth that young people can have too. Overall, it sends a strong, hopeful message through highly relatable characters and a well-constructed narrative of support from all around. Yeah, But I Didn’t is an emotionally compelling and genuinely helpful work of fiction to create talking points for teens and adults everywhere.

Rabia Tanveer

Yeah, but I Didn't by Ann Swann is a coming-of-age story of a young girl as she discovers the hardships of life in the most gruesome ways. Benji Stevens was your usual teenager; she loved to be happy, she had a routine that worked for her and that was the best she could hope for. However, her peaceful existence was shattered when her life was turned upside down because she said: “not yet.” Devastated and sad, she had no idea that she would become the victim of bullying so severe that she would be broken to the core. Running low on self-esteem, she lost the love she had for herself and believed she didn’t deserve to be happy. Lost and depressed, Benji doesn’t know how long she can live like this. But she experiences life in a completely different light when she joins a therapy group called “Yeah, but I Didn’t” and realizes that she is a survivor and she has every right to be happy!

This novel brings some devastating truths to the forefront that we all know yet we don’t pay attention to it. Peer pressure can harm a young impressionable mind and bullying can make matters worse. There are so many girls like Benji who become a victim of such circumstances and there is not much their parents can do to protect them. Benji is a universal character; she makes you realize that you are worth every effort you make and you should love yourself no matter what. Self-esteem is a delicate thing and the self-esteem of a teenager is even more fragile than most. The author has handled the topic very carefully and tactfully. Her choice of words is very positive and the way she handled the story is commendable. I believe this story can be a lesson for many people.