Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations is a non-fiction book by Alex and Brett Harris (yes, they are twins). First, this is a book written from a decidedly Christian viewpoint, although, if someone is willing to read it through regardless of religious beliefs, anyone can get the main message of the book and glean something from it; especially teenagers.
The twins start out the book showing us all what teenagers in the past have accomplished at very young ages. To me, this set the tone of the book up perfectly and draws the reader in. Instantly one can see that it is indeed possible for teens to do hard things, and that not so very long ago, they managed it regularly.
Coming from teens itself, the book has a much greater impact than if someone in their 20’s or 30’s had penned it. I have worked with young men in their teenage years as a counselor doing a group therapy rotation on a military base. The group was comprised of fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen year-old’s who either dropped out, or were kicked out of high school. It was an anger management group. It was also a perfect example of what low expectations can lead to.
Most of the guys had bought the idea that they were worthless. Everyone around them, outside of camp, believed that these guys would fail. One of the insights that my counseling partner and I tried to get them to see was that they did not have to live down to the world’s expectations of them. I wish I had had Do Hard Things available at the time to give each one of them a copy.
One of my favourite points brought up in the book was the absolute lack of meaning the phrases, “I did my best,” or “just do your best,” now have. They are completely meaningless and are a pat answer, and command. If eveyone that claims to have did their best really had done their best, the world would look a lot different.
Now, the only thing that made me slightly anxious while reading the book was an underlying feel of “could-be legalism.” I have to give it to the twins, they walked a fine but distinct line between suggestion, simply sharing information, and legalism. To me, it felt as though they consciously knew that there could be a tone of legalism, and deliberately kept reframing their points as to avoid it, which is a good thing.
For example, they have a discussion about a modesty survey that they helped to set up. The survey asked males for their opinions on various articles of clothing that women would wear and that women themselves actually asked about (for example ankle length skirts; modest or not; are spaghetti strap tops by themselves; are they a stumbling block to guys, etc…). Of course if one is not really careful, it could turn legalistic…and I react to legalism pretty much like Paul does in Galatians. They are quick to point out that they are not offering a list of rules…but, is a list of rules implied? Is it subtlety communicated (I don’t believe intentionally) that if you, as a female, were to wear certain articles of clothing that you may just be contributing to another person’s sin, and hence responsible not only for your own slip, but theirs as well…
Anywho, the twins themselves avoid making their ideas in the book a legalistic issue which I thought was great, and a smart move. I do believe that this book would be helpful, and is a must read for teens, tweens, parents, pastors, counselors, psychologists, teachers, etc… It is definitely a reminder to society at large that teens are quite capable of handling a lot of responsibility, esp. when that responsibility is chosen or embraced by the teen themselves (and especially when it is blessed by God).
You can find the twins main page here: The Rebelution. It has book information, a link to their blog, tour info, etc… My husband, The Country Shrink, a Clinical Psychologist, also wrote up a review, which you can read here: Doing hard things.
This book is definitely worth the money and time to read.