Date(s) read: December 5 – 10, 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary
An intense look at the rules of high school attraction — and the price that’s paid for them.
It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn’t matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.
This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, “pretty” and “ugly.” And it’s also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.
This was quite the interesting read. When I started reading it, I wondered if high school really is like this nowadays. When I was in high school (a billion years ago), I remember there being some bullying (or just mean kids, in general), but it was usually minor — nothing like what this book shows, a list outlining the prettiest and ugliest girls in each grade. It was kind of intense to read some of the story, that’s for sure.
The story had many different narrators — all of the girls on the list had a chapter for each day. The story starts on the Monday and ends on the Saturday, so we get to see how the list affects each girl on the list each day. Some girls think nothing of it, and others take the list way too far. But aside from the list itself, we get to see what life is actually like for some of these girls, and underneath the aesthetics that the people in the school see, whether or not someone is “pretty” or “ugly,” we see that for some girls, there are other issues going on. For example, one girl who’s deemed as “prettiest” is suffering from anorexia.
It was interesting to see the POV of each of these girls. But, in the same sense, I wanted more depth. It was great to see some of the girls grow as characters, but when there are so many issues going on in the story, it’s easy to want a focus on just one character. Eight characters is quite a lot to focus on in a story that’s just over 300 pages. There’s kind of a resolution in the end, but I found myself wanting more meat to the story.
Part of me also felt like something like the list would’ve been dealt with, rather than something that would still be going on after years. I mean, these days bullying isn’t something that’s taken lightly, so I would think that either parents or the school board would do something about it. I guess there’s also part of me that wants to think that kids can’t be that cruel, especially in this day and age.
Of course, Vivian’s writing is something. I was definitely interested the whole way through the story and found her writing to be very accessible. I can see myself checking out more of her works in the future.