In Control

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In Control During a person's life, he/she goes through many hardships. Many of these hardships occur during the teenage years of one's life. During these times teenagers go through stresses that most adults don't have to face in their normal, everyday routines. Teenagers have to deal with peer pressure on every subject from weight to grades to sports. Unknown to many people, a lot of this pressure comes from adults. Parents and coaches can pressure a student to make the right grades, study harder, hang out with the right crowd, and even watch their weight and appearance. These pressures are not healthy for a teenager. In the book My Sister's Bones, Cassie, Billie, and Vinnie all face the same pressures from adults in different situations. The author of this book, Cathi Hanauer, illustrates the problems these kids go through. Unknowing, they all have a lot in common.

Cassie in the first person in the book those hardships are shown to.

Cassie studies hard through high school and gives up the social life most girls would love to get into her dad's alma mater, Cornell. In high school, she shows this dire need to please her father. She perhaps wants to attend another university, but since her father has made this unacceptable in their family, she has to give up her dreams to pursue the ones of her father. A father should always let the choice of higher education be the child's decision. Cassie is miserable when she gets to Cornell; she is trying so hard to please her father with good grades that she loses sight of her own needs. Cassie is doing average in her classes but for her that isn't good enough in her eyes. Her father has taught her that nothing less than a B is acceptable, but in Cassie's mind, nothing less than an A is acceptable. The pressure that her father has placed upon her is probably the most logical reason for Cassie's health downfall. Her father pushes her to make the grades and Cassie is doing just that. She is pushing herself past the healthy limit. She has given away her clothes and stops eating. Here she shows, by her actions, she is so focused on what her father wants her to accomplish that she completely loses sight of what Cassie wants until it is too late. After everyone finally accepts that Cassie has a problem, she starts coming out and telling her father what it is she wants. Not gaining weight is the most important thing to her and she is determined not to let her father take this away from her. He has removed all other wants from her life except to please him and this is perhaps the last thing she is holding on to. She is in control now. She is the only one who can decide whether to eat or not, and she likes it that way. For once in her life, she can decide what to do and her father can't pressure her into doing the opposite. It is her decision.

Billie is also suffering the same pressure that Cassie is trying so hard to defy. Billie is forced to study for hours on end for the SAT test. The SAT test is a very long stressful test that high school juniors and seniors must take to get accepted into a college or university, and it is proven that the higher a score the greater the chance is of getting into top choice colleges ("Points to Note"�). Billie really despises studying so much for this test but she must do it to make her father happy. Billie can not bring herself to stand up to her father the same way that Cassie does. Billie defies her father in more subtle ways. She skips her first SAT exam and then she throws away the scores when she receives them. By doing this, she is proving to herself that she does have decisions to make in life. Her father can make her study all he wants, but he can't make her pick up a pencil and take the test. Billie also has to face extra pressures from her father after Cassie gets sick. Billie's father is trying so hard to remain in control that he adds extra pressure to Billie's life. Now, not only does she have to deal with the pressure for her grades and friends, she has to deal with the fact that her father is trying to push her harder so she doesn't end up like Cassie. Her father believes that if he pushes Billie harder than he did Cassie, she won't have the problems that Cassie is facing. It is obvious that he is still trying to hang on to some shred of power over his daughters. But Billie has had enough one day on the back from visiting her sister and flees the car. She is now trying to escape the pressures her father is forcing upon her. So she runs to the gas station where her long time crush is and throws herself at him. This is Billie's way of controlling things. Her father can control who he likes to be her friends, her grades, her study habits, and her home life, but he can not control her sexuality. She is the only one who can control whether or not she is going to be a virgin and she is rebelling against her father by having sex with Dom. She has finally had the opportunity when she gets to make the decision. Later, in her mind, she has made a mistake by having sex with Dom, but she still feels that she needed to be in control for once in her life.

Billie's boyfriend, Vinnie, is also suffering from pressure from adults. He is a wrestler for his high school team and must face the pressure of meeting weight each week. He is suffering a lot from what Cassie and Billie are suffering from. He is suffering from the need to be in control. By making weight each week, he is proving to himself that he is, indeed, in control of his weight. Because of pressure, he has an eating disorder much like Cassie's. Though they are losing weight for different reasons, they both are losing weight to defy the pressure they are facing and for once be in control. Vinnie suffers from one pressure that Cassie and Billie don't have to face. He has to face an audience. Whenever he steps out onto that mat, he is being watched by a hundred or more faces that expect him to win. When he loses a big match, he is actually defying that audience. He is showing them that only he can decide whether he is going to win or lose, and they can cheer all they want to, but they won't have an effect on him. He is disappointed, but the lack of emotion also shows that, in a way, he is relieved to be finished with the pressures of wrestling for the time being. Finally, Vinnie is in control of something and he enjoys this.

All of these teenagers have to face pressures from adults that are both similar and different. They have also all found a way to be in control of one thing in their lives. For Vinnie and Cassie, it is weight. For Billie, it is sex. They all strive for the same thing though, to be in control. In the end that is what they all received. They learned that they really are in control of their own lives.