Diana Winston,
Wide Awake:
A Buddhist Guide for Teens

(Perigee, 2003)

The literary world has a vast number of Buddhist books, from Buddhism for Dummies to works by the Dalai Lama. With Wide Awake, Diana Winston inserts a much-needed primer for teenagers into the canon, one that teaches Buddhism's main principles with clarity, intelligence and an empathetic voice perfectly pitched to her adolescent audience.

The book is laid out in five easy-to-navigate sections. The first introduces some Buddhist history and key philosophical principles: Winston does a great job here balancing education with practical life examples and testimonials. Then she moves on to meditation instruction, where she introduces the concepts of meditation practice with a down-to-earth style and targets typical meditation problems (like stressing about having thoughts, or having your legs fall asleep) that are often neglected in new age books. She then tackles the thorny issue of self-esteem and how to live fully in ourselves -- a topic she handles with particular grace. Next comes a practical section on putting Buddhism in our daily lives, followed by the closing section on applying Buddhism to our relations with others.

No matter what she's talking about, Diana Winston never forgets who she's talking to -- a young audience, hard-wired towards suspicion and rejection of authority. Her practical voice and no-bull style gives an education without dogmatism and spirituality without ethereal notions, while her open discussions of her own experiences give her the mantle of authority without the straitjacket of an Authority Figure. Novices of all ages will find something of meaning in Wide Awake: A Buddhist Guide for Teens; if not a spiritual awakening, then at least a spirited education into this globe-sweeping Eastern lifestyle.

- Rambles
written by Tracie Vida
published 4 September 2004

Buy it from Amazon.com.