CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 39. . . .June 11, 2010
Some Girls Are.
New York, NY: St. Martin's Griffin (Distributed in Canada by H.B. Fenn and Co.), 2009.
245 pp., pbk., $11.99.
Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.
Review by Ann Ketcheson.
I don't blame whoever bailed on Nelson. The volleyball net is wedged at the back of the storage room, unravelled behind a row of gym mats against the wall.
"Forget it," I say.
"You want to be the one to tell Nelson that?"
I sigh and we start shifting mats. They're awkward as hell. The first ten minutes pass in the sounds of us breathing and the shuffle of the mats as we move them. When my arms start to ache and cramp, I notice she's stopped, letting me do the work for both of us, waiting for me to catch on.
"Would you help?" I ask. She just stares. I grab the edge of a mat and get back to work. "Fuck you, Anna."
"Fuck you," she returns. "I thought I could trust you but I should've known you'd stab me in the back, especially after Liz. You were never the same after that. I should've known you'd fuck me over."
I don't want to hear Liz's name come out of her mouth.
"Anna, shut the fuck up---"
"Don't tell me to shut the fuck up. He was my boyfriend. He was my boyfriend for two years, and no matter what you felt about him, whatever you think it was, he was still my boyfriend."
I let go of the mat. "I didn't sleep with him!"
"I didn't sleep with him."
I'm going to keep saying it until she hears it. "I didn't sleep with Donnie, and Kara is totally setting you up. You look like a fool----"
"Anna, he tried to----"
She pushes me. I hit the row of shelves behind us, and the metal edges dig into my skin, and then she's gone and I'm alone. I sit on the floor and close my eyes, and when I open then again, it's not quite three-thirty, but close, so I leave."
Some Girls Are demonstrates the difficulty of joining the in crowd, the need to virtually sell your soul to some sort of popularity devil, and the horrible repercussions when you fall out of grace. The bullying faced by Regina is more than uncomfortable and unpleasant; it becomes violent and explodes into full-scale abuse and assault. Regina is to be pitied, but it is difficult to find any real sympathy since she is portrayed as a dislikeable and unpleasant young woman caught in a vicious circle of both bully and victim. Most of the characters in the novel are one-sided: dangerous, violent, unpleasant and unrepentant. Michael and Liz are two exceptions within this nightmare, but Regina's overtures at friendship with them seem more like an effort to simply take advantage of their good nature than any real attempt to reform or change.
Like Summers' first novel, Cracked Up to Be, the focus is entirely on teen characters. The adults in the book are insignificant and ineffective, and the setting is generic. The plot is fast-paced, but it centres entirely on what the next catastrophe will be for Regina and what revenge she can dream up in return. The nastiness is relentless from beginning to end.
Summers repeatedly uses bad language and references to drugs, sex, alcohol and abuse. There is a rape scene in the first chapter of the novel. It is unfortunate that her continued use of such themes makes them seem somehow acceptable and indeed the norm in life in a modern high school. This is not a book I would recommend for younger teens, and any reader should approach it with caution. Some may find the bullying and danger intense and exciting, making the book a thriller. Others may feel like an observer at a horrific traffic accident: compelled to look but ultimately appalled and happy to move on to more humane and appealing stories.
Ann Ketcheson is a retired teacher-librarian and teacher of high school English and French who lives in Ottawa, ON.
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