Posts Tagged 'popularity'

The List by Vivian Siohban

thelist

 

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

333 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

2014-2015 Iowa High School Award Winner

Every year a list is posted the Monday before Homecoming listing the four prettiest and four ugliest girls, one for each grade respectively.  Each chapter follows one of the eight girls and how they cope with the existence of this list.  Danielle, the ugliest freshmen, must deal with the fallout of how her boyfriend handles the news that she was voted on this list.  Meanwhile, Abby, the prettiest freshmen faces possibly not being allowed to go to the dance at all due to grades.  The “ugliest” sophomore is actually a cute, but very mean girl who is deemed “ugliest” on the inside.  The “prettiest” sophomore girl is a girl who has been home-schooled for her entire life and is trying to find independence from her mom with great difficulty.  The prettiest junior, Bridget, feels pressured into an eating disorder in order to maintain her image while the ugliest junior reacts quite strongly and refuses to shower or change her clothes for the entire week after the list comes out.  The ugliest senior is the first ever to earn that particular honor for all four years of high school and she pretends she is totally fine with it.  The prettiest senior feels the pressure to follow in her sister’s footsteps who was the prettiest senior the year before and seemed to fall apart afterward.  Each chapter follows a different girl as she navigates through this very difficult week.

This book has earned many awards for good reason.  This book delves into many serious issues for high school girls including insecurity, the fear of being excluded, worrying about what others think, eating disorders, dating problems, academic trouble, lying, and problems at home.  No one on the list finds happiness no matter which side of the list she is on.  While the circumstances around the list may seem unbelievable, the issues surrounding it are completely believable and exist at every high school.  A great book to recommend to high school girls, especially ones who are having trouble adjusting.

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The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  281

RAC Book:  Yes

Alona is arguing with someone on her cell phone when she fails to look before she crosses a street and is killed by a school bus.  She dies, but does not go to heaven as she expects.  Instead, she remains around her high school and finds she can see how everyone is coping with her death.  To her dismay, her high school did not come to a screeching halt merely because its most popular girl died.  She begins to get frustrated because she doesn’t know how to get to heaven, but then she realizes that the weird goth kid, Will Killian, can see and hear her.  She makes it her mission to make him help her get to the other side, but Will needs some favors of his own.  Can the two overcome their differences to work together and find happy outcomes for both?

This is a fun, light story with some very real problems in it.  Alona was the popular girl of the class, but that did not mean her life was perfect and Will soon finds that she hid some very serious problems from her classmates.  Meanwhile, Will is struggling with his gift of seeing the dead and worries he might end up like his father who had shared the same gift.  There is a bit of swearing, but it won’t be anything most high school students aren’t used to hearing.  The message of the story is clear and readers will move through the fast paced story quickly.  The ending is a little unclear, but overall it was an enjoyable read.

To Be Mona by Kelly Easton

mona

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 15 and up

# of Pages: 218

RAC Book: No

Sage Priestly wants to be just like the most popular girl in school, Mona. She wants to be her so bad that she highlights her hair, loses weight on a crash diet, and throws out all of her black clothes and starts wearing pastel colors. The problem is that her mother has undiagnosed bi-polar disorder and cannot be depended on to get a job, buy groceries, or do any motherly duties. Her best friend, Vern, lives next door and tries to take care of her, but does not like the new changes she has made. Despite his efforts to become more than friends, Sage does not want to date him. Worse yet, she decides to date the high school jock who forbids her to see Vern. As Sage tries to deal with her mother spiraling out of control, the abandonment issues of her father, and completely changing her life, she starts to wonder if she really wants to be Mona at all or if she is happy being Sage.

This story has a good message to share with young readers, but takes a slow path to get there. The book has a few characters who do not seem to ever fully develop and one character that uses some very derogatory language which may offend some young readers. The ending is a little abrupt and it is unclear how Sage’s life will continue from this point. Mona’s character is not at all what most readers will expect and is a nice surprise in an otherwise fairly predictable book.

How to Be Popular by Meg Cabot

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  12 and up

# of pages:  288

RAC Book:  Yes

Steph Landry accidently spilled a drink on the most popular girl, Lauren, in sixth grade, and Lauren never let anyone forget it.  In fact, Steph Landry’s name has now morphed into an insult as she has gotten older.  For example, if someone trips someone else might yell, “Way to pull a Steph Landry!”  Steph does have two close friends, Becca and Jason, but she longs for the days when she wasn’t a joke. 

Steph’s grandfather has recently come into some money after selling some of his land so that a save-a-lot could be built.  Steph’s mother, a bookstore owner, is not happy about this since she believes it will drive out all other businesses and as a result has refused to go to her dad’s wedding to Kitty.  Kitty just happens to be Jason’s grandmother. 

Steph decides to take matters into her own hands when she finds an old book in Kitty’s attick called How to be Popular.  By following the book’s advice, Steph does start to get noticed more, but she also alienates her good friends and Lauren makes it her mission to get back at her for making her look bad in front of the other cool kids.  In the end, Steph is faced with a tough decision, but by facing it she also has to face her future as a high school student.  Who does she really want to be?  Who does she really want to be friends with?  How can she gain respect from her peers?  How important is her family to her? 

The voice in this book is interesting and many girls will be able to identify with Steph’s desire for popularity.  It is nice to see that she doesn’t become a mindless drone who will do anything the popular kids ask her to do, however.  The ending is a little bit cheesy, but Cabot fans always like their happy endings.  Popularity is an issue in almost any situation, but in high school it seems especially important.  This story does a nice job of putting it into perspective and showing that popularity isn’t everything and there is no formula for becoming happy with yourself.


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