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Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks with Bennett Miller and Matt Futterman about a campaign for student government that changed the way student elections were done in Mamaroneck High School back in 1985. Futterman, in the waning days of his campaign, tried a radical tactic: A TV ad.

Act Two: Are You My Mommy?

When Jessica Robinson was sent to adult prison at the age of 14, the state did such a terrible job taking care of her that several women—an embezzler, a convicted murderer, and some thieves—stepped in to mother her. Alex Kotlowitz reports.

Prologue

A high school student explains the intricacies of a four-year crush, and declares that having a crush can be better than having a boyfriend.

Act One: Eliminate The Middleman

Here in America, here's how we interact with our political candidates: We dispatch middlemen to the scene, they listen to what the candidates say, they research the candidates' backgrounds, and they tell us what they think is most important. Those middlemen, of course, are journalists.

Prologue

The story of a teenagers' party among teenagers who thought of themselves as very grownup. In many ways they completely understand what a grownup party is like: Quiet conversation with lots of thoughtful nodding of heads, alcohol without excessive or loud consumption.

Act Three: The Miseducation Of Josh Frank

This is another story of a young person making a huge, life-changing decision about his own fate while still very young. Hillary Frank tells the story, about her own little brother—and his trumpet.

Act Four: Angry Young Man, Times Two

This is the story of two people—one in his late teens, one in his late fifties. Both have good reasons to be mad at the world, but what they did with their anger—and what society did with them—are very different.

Act Three: Fire And Ice Cream

When a nurse asks a 14-year-old burn victim out for ice cream, is it a date? Brent Runyon tells the story, which was produced by Jay Allison, part of his Life Stories series, with help from Christina Egloff and funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The story is part of Runyon's book The Burn Journals. Ira then speaks with an interested party.

Prologue

This American Life host Ira Glass and producer Susan Burton spent a week in August recording a suburban Chicago youth group at every stage of their very first mission trip. The teenagers were from Covenant Presbyterian Church in Chicago.

Act One: Exodus

These teenagers are the children the Christian right has in mind when it holds conferences on what's at stake in America's culture war. On the fourteen-hour drive to West Virginia, we listen to the Backstreet Boys and talk about Dawson's Creek. One of the things that's so interesting about these teenagers is the odd mix of Christian and secular pop in their lives.

Prologue

Reporter Mark Arax spent three years investigating the murder of his father and yet he's still not at peace when he thinks of his dad's death. (His book is called In My Father's Name: A Family, a Town, a Murder.) This is how it goes sometimes.

Act One

Barbara Clinkscales grew up in Chicago's public housing projects, had her first child when she was 15, and is now—over two decades later—struggling to get her teenage son to finish his senior year of high school. Barbara is a working mom, with a network of close friends who look out for her.

Act Two

Barbara's story continues, as she hears some terrible news about her son.