Author: Lauren Saft
Release Date: June 9th, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Junior year, the suburbs of Philadelphia. Alex, Mollie and Veronica are those girls: they’re the best of friends and the party girls of the school. But how well does everybody know them–and really, how well do they know one another? Alex is secretly in love with the boy next door and has joined a band–without telling anyone. Mollie suffers from a popular (and possibly sociopathic) boyfriend, as well as a serious mean streak. And Veronica just wants to be loved–literally, figuratively, physically….she’s not particular. Will this be the year that bonds them forever….or tears them apart for good? (Goodreads)
Same shit, new year. The first day of eleventh grade.
* Thank you, NetGalley, for a review copy of this book*
Overall, I liked this book. With that being said, there were also things that made me incredibly uncomfortable. Fair warning to anyone thinking of picking up this book, it contains its fair share of vulgarities, drug use, sex, and other generally inappropriate behaviour.
This book, I don’t even really know where to start. I like that the characters aren’t the perfect, “I make innocent mistakes only” girls. They have been taken to the extreme end of the bad spectrum, I will admit that, but I have encountered people with pieces of these characters’ personalities so it brought me back to my teenage years too. Without giving away any parts of the story, some of the actions of the girls in this book are awful and definitely not representative of teenage girls as a whole. Those were the parts that made me uncomfortable, they were really awful to each other, other people, and even themselves. Their behaviour was highly destructive but there were definitely a lot of moments that made me say “hey, I remember thinking/feeling like that when I was that age!”. The worrying about not being enough, the body image issues, the fitting in or worrying about other people “abandoning” you. It all really struck a chord with me, even though I was a complete angel (especially compared to Those Girls…see what I did there, haha?).
Problematic characters and their awful, destructive decisions aside, I found the writing really easy to follow. I did struggle keeping the characters straight for the first few chapters which had me confused when the narrator switched but I caught on quick enough and the rest flew by. I actually quite liked the use of the viewpoints of all three of the girls. I felt like each one really did have their own voice and it was interesting to see different perspectives on the same events. When it’s done well and I can get into it, I really love books written from different POVs. It just adds a certain something for me.
From an educator’s standpoint/mindset, this book is full of teachable moments. Mollie, with how poorly she allows herself to be treated by Sam and also how much pressure she puts on herself to be “good enough” for him (losing weight, begrudgingly doing sexual things as a trade-off, etc.), is a good example to girls that this is not something normal. This is not how anybody should let a significant other treat them and they should never feel pressure to do things or changes things about themselves to be cared for. It’s also a good lesson that retaliation is always a dangerous endeavour and it’s very hard to stop oneself before crossing a line.
I 100% do not recommend this book for everyone. It has the potential to offend people incredibly deeply and make people incredibly uncomfortable (in my case it wasn’t enough to put me off completely). Aside from that, it’s a pretty interesting story and has some great teachable moments in it (even for adults!), as well as the opportunity to see things from different points of view. If, like me, you are not turned off by the swearing, drug, bad behaviour, etc., then I think there’s a chance you could find this book entertaining. I’m not jumping to read it again but it was fun while I was going through it.