A young adult novel in text speak, especially since it was written in 2004, is clever. I am not a fan of the recent craze of Twitter novels told in 140 character increments , in my opinion, they are annoying. Lauren Myracle wrote a book for teens in their language. She does pretend she is writing the next Catcher in the Rye. She is writing a tween/teen book for girls who are going through what Angela, Maddie, and Zoe are experiencing.
The plot, as whole, was pretty good for teenagers. The constantly shifting crushes, social anxiety, and familial issues are pretty standard fare. There is the requisite heartbreak from a boy, teenage girl “BFF” fight, and other teenage drama. Those are very normal parts of life.
There is talk of the possibility of loosing virginity, kissing boys, underage drinking, and even religious discussion, the book deals with all these issues evenly. While one girl parties too hard and pays for it, another will not drink a drop. One girl might be always prowling for a boyfriend, while the other is into a new church. These three girls cover the basics. I would say junior high and high school students could read this book and not come across unfamiliar topics. From what I have read of the rest of the series, the issue and topics mature as the girls themselves do too. Parents might want to be aware.
The plot line involving the teacher seems to cause a lot of objections. Times have changed and sexual predators come in all shapes and sizes. It is part of the book many object to, but there is nothing wrong with showing examples in teen fiction of times when protecting yourself and blindly following an authority figure are not always the same thing. That is when they, especially girls, need to understand it. We have no trouble believing in plot lines as adults where characters struggle to overcome issues relating back to past abuse, but we think that adolescents and teens who might actually face these situations should remain oblivious to the fact such monsters exist?
In the end, what I found most telling about the controversy about this book was what book banning often comes down to- perception. I looked up reviews of this book online out of curiosity. All of the poor reviews came from parents who found it inappropriate and were appalled. Reviews from minors were all favorable with many commenting, “they sound just like me and my friends.” There has always been a generational gap between kids and parents, but books like this could actually help bridge it and be used as a forum for open discussion rather than automatic condemnation.