Definitely a “guilty pleasure” kind of book. The text is so easy to read that many many pre-teen girls have gobbled this up — even though I wonder if the adults in their lives might be scandalized if they know their daughters/students/nieces/grandchildren are reading about:
a high school girl who seduces (quite successfully) her English teacher,
another one shoplifts, drives drunk, and is always off the hook with the police because her mother flirts and possibly has sex with the young cop,
another steals her sister’s boyfriends, and,
yet another, *gasp* oh *gasp,* has just discovered that she LIKES KISSING GIRLS! —
and booze, drugs, cigarettes are casually consumed by everyone in the story.
A host of my 6th graders came back from the summer, having read either one book or the entire series, gushed about these books — a blend of Gossip Girls, Sex in the City, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Sorority Row. So I was obligated to read the first one at least. Now I have a lot of questions in my mind but the top one surfaced after finishing reading the “What Happens Next” section in the paperback edition of this book:
Why in the world that being gay is treated on the same level of morally questionable conducts as a “naughty behavior [deserving] punishment” along with initiating sexual relationship with a teacher, shoplifting, and boyfriend pilfering?
I am really having a problem with this backward thinking implication in our time… although, maybe not as surprised as I should have been, given the “moral” climate of the U.S. of A. Granted, all the behaviors in the story are secrets that the girls wish to keep away from their friends and family which is part of the theme of the story. However, labeling lesbianism as a naughty behavior that has to be punished in some way is simply unacceptable in my book.
*FUMING* — What is going on with the world of Young Adult publishing? Are we so desperate in making a buck that there is no consideration of the damage this could have done to young readers? Should a teen or pre-teen girl feel guilty if she realizes that she is attracted to girls? In the same way if she finds herself cheating on tests or stealing goods from local stores? And please don’t tell me that “This is just a trashy book, like candy. Who cares?” Because if we believe that Good books change lives (like many Library slogans proclaim) and that wonderful characters leave positive effects on readers (say in books like Boy Meets Boy, Hard Love, or True Believer,) we cannot deny the opposite as true as well.
Please talk to your young readers who are reading this series and unpack some of the tangled threads!