Tuesday, April 23, 2013

review: The List

Title by Author: The List by Siobhan Vivian
Series (if applicable): n/a
Publisher: Push
Publication Date: 2012
Page Count:  332
Source: library
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.

My Interest in this book is: The premise of the book captivated me.  A list of girls, both ugly and pretty, and how they deal with it.

My Review:
It’s the Monday of Homecoming Week, and the List has been posted throughout the school… for the 20 something-th year!  The List names the Ugliest and the Prettiest girl of each class.  This book looks at each girl, each day leading up to the Homecoming Dance.

We are introduced to each girl, and see a snippet of their lives.  In the Freshman class, we have Dan the Man, and Pretty Abby, who has been pointed out for overcoming family genetics.  Candace, of the Sophomore class, was told that beauty isn’t just skin-deep, placing her as the ugliest girl, while Lauren, the homeschool girl, is rocketed instantly to famedom  when the list is put out.  Our Junior girls are Sarah – could she try to be any uglier, and Bridget was noticed as the prettiest after a summer of dieting.  Then the Senior Class has a four-time loser in Jennifer while Margo could be the next Homecoming Queen.

It is amazing what the list does to these girls.  Boyfriends either run and hide, or stand by the girl’s side, even if she wasn’t noted as the prettiest.  Best friends leave or flock, due to status of the girl. The girls themselves? Boy, do some of them have serious issues!

While I liked the premise of this book, I really didn’t get a sense that the author did anything to make these types of situations better for girls who might be reading this story.  Many of the girls were flawed to begin with, and stayed that way.  There are issues of being an individual that causes one girl to be seen as the ugliest of her class, and she isn’t applauded for maintaining her individuality.  You have another girl who has a serious eating disorder, and no help coming to the rescue as she slips further in to her disease.  You see another girl who is a hit, and it does go to her head and changes who she is. These are just a few of the cases in this story.  It tried to be too much, and wasn’t enough for any of the girls.

The characters seemed true to their nature, to a point.  Each girl got her own chapter, so that you can see a snapshot of her life one day at a time, but you didn’t get the full day, and the chapters were too short to get too much in to details.  Salient points were brought forth, but it was difficult to identify with any one character, since this book focused on EIGHT different girls.  I think out of all of the characters, the only one who truly took charge of her life was Danielle.  Out of all of the girls, she was the one who seemed to rise above (after a brief dip).  All of the others had issues so deep it was hard to see if they would ever pull out of the nose-dive the list thrust upon them (or continued because of the list).

The author did do a good job at writing eight different points of view and you got a sense that each girl was a bit different.  But I think she bit off more than she could chew.  It was fast-paced, and I did find myself grabbing the book when I had a spare moment.  But it failed to deliver, in my opinion, it failed to start fixing the problems that unfortunately too many of our girls face in school.  This book should have given hope to girls who have found themselves in similar positions – not left them out in the cold, still struggling and having no direction.  It would have been nice for this book to actually help girls, not show indifference to their issues.

Favorite Quotes: none
When I finished this book, I felt: Let down!  What a great premise, and I felt it did not live up to its promise.
Rating: 2 Stars
Tag: high school, social issues, eating disorder, popularity
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