This amazing first novel is one of the most honest treatments of teenage sexuality to be found in YA fiction--it will definitely be provocative. Stone tells the story in poetry, and the terseness makes the feelings that much more vivid. The format is inventive: there are three girls telling the story of their seduction by the same bad boy, each in turn. Josie begins, with a series of poems about her freshman year in high school. She has confidence in herself, but finds her critical thinking skills not much help when an attractive senior boy seduces her. She is vulnerable to his attention even when she suspects he isn't always sincere, and he knows how to make her body respond to his touches and kisses. She manages to resist him sexually, and when he ditches her, she goes to the library and writes in the back of the book Forever, by Judy Blume, the details of what a jerk he is. Next to experience the "bad boy" is Nicolette, completely different from Josie. Nicolette has had sex before and prides herself on being in control of relationships. She loses control in this relationship because the sex is so exciting she believes she is in love. In actuality, he is treating her like a whore, which finally she has to face--she finds comfort in reading about Josie's experience when she is told to check in the back of Forever. The third girl, Aviva, has a different story to tell, but she too is betrayed and finds solace in the sisterhood who share their experiences. Each girl makes different choices when confronted with the attentions of an irresistible older guy who behaves shamefully. Each wants to believe she is special, the exception, the girl he really loves. Aviva, though hurt,manages to puncture his defenses. We are accustomed to stories of how much girls want to be loved, and this one doesn't contradict that truth, but adds to it the power of sexual desire. An adolescent boy's strong sex drive is a given, but here is the poetry of a girl's body responding to seduction. This will be much talked about, and every reader who has been swept away in a love affair will recognize its truth. KLIATT Codes: S*--Exceptional book, recommended for senior high school students. 2006, Random House, Wendy Lamb, 223p., Ages 15 to 18.
Some girls are just plain attracted to bad boys, and Josie, Nicolette, and Aviva are definitely those girls. All very different, each falls for the same senior boy who has mostly one thing on his mind. Josie is the confident freshman who falls for the senior's flattery and almost goes too far before she realizes she was just going to be another notch on his belt. Nicolette is the junior who has been around the block quite a few times and sees this bad boy as another challenge to conquer, realizing too late that the tables have been turned and that she has been used for sex. Aviva is a well-rounded and intelligent outsider in the social scene, but she allows herself to be sucked in to the mainstream by this bad boy's sweet words that warp her judgment and change her life. Written in three distinct voices of poetry prose, Stone's intimate and honest work accurately depicts both the agony and ecstasy of teenage relationships from the inside out. The three plots are cleverly joined through a school library copy of Judy Blume's Forever (Bradbury, 1975), the first young adult novel to deal frankly with teenage sex, where the girls share their stories and post a warning for every other girl who follows. Each learns difficult lessons from their bad-boy experience and come out stronger, proving that a bad boy, in some cases, can be good for a girl. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Wendy Lamb Books/Random House, 240p., and PLB Ages 12 to 18.
Children's Literature - Elizabeth Young
Wow! An eye-opening WOW. Is high school just a hunting ground for testosterone-infested young men? Apparently Stone presents that stigma through the eyes of three naive high school girls who learn the hard way that not everyone has their best interest at heart. This title is presented in verse form, so it is a quick read, but that sometimes obscures the characters and dialog. At times it feels as if we need a scorecard to know who is speaking. Follow the adventures and misadventures of Josie, Nicolette, and Aviva and their ‘relationship' with the same boy, and decide which one made the wisest choiceor the choice most similar to yours. One boy, known only as T.L., seems to be interested in only one thing and spares no broken hearts to get it. Parents may shudder at the scenarios that are disclosed, but high school girls will identify with most, if not all, of the heightened emotions and drama. An excellent choice for a girls reading club, but certainly not a wise choice for ‘promiscuous' girls.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Three girls succumb to the charms of one sexy high school senior and emerge wiser for the experience in this energetic novel in verse. Josie is a self-assured freshman who values her girlfriends over boys until a hot jock focuses his attention on her and her simmering hormones break into a full boil. Confused by her behavior, yet unable to control her desire, she acts out every romantic clich she has ever disdained, until the boy drops her and she experiences the chill of rejection. It is Judy Blume's Forever that sparks Josie's fire again, and finding a few blank pages at the back of the library's copy, she sends a warning to the girls of her school. Next readers meet Nicolette, a junior who sees her sexuality as power. A loner, she's caught by surprise at her own reaction when this popular boy takes notice of her. Suddenly she thinks she sees the difference between sex and love, and then, just as suddenly, he's gone. Finally, Aviva, a pretty, smart, artsy, and funny senior, is stunned when the jock seems to want her. She gives up her virginity, only to be disappointed in both the sex and the boy. Furious, Aviva heads to the library to check out Forever, now crammed with the words of girls who suffered the same fate at the hands of the same boy. The free verse gives the stories a breathless, natural flow and changes tone with each narrator. The language is realistic and frank, and, while not graphic, it is filled with descriptions of the teens and their sexuality. This is not a book that will sit quietly on any shelf; it will be passed from girl to girl to girl.-Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, FL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Three high-school girls take turns relating their separate experiences with the same bad boy, a senior jock who seems only interested in one thing: "nailing" them. There's enough in this verse novel to make a grown woman cringe-remembering what it was like back then and that the more things change they stay the same. These narrators, despite their varied backgrounds and ambitions, are interested in, well, the physical realm of boy/girl relations and are willing to kiss and tell: They speak poetry of pedestrian language, which, at its most varied, describes erotic outings and, in one instance, oral sex. High school girls with uncomplicated reading agendas might find this brain candy gratifying. But those with SATs on their minds will find this shallow, repetitive and empty. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
“Three girls succumb to the charms of one sexy high school senior and emerge wiser for the experience in this energetic novel in verse. . . The free verse gives the stories a breathless, natural flow and changes tone with each narrator. The language is realistic and frank, and, while not graphic, it is filled with descriptions of the teens and their sexuality. This is not a book that will sit quietly on any shelf; it will be passed from girl to girl to girl.”–School Library Journal, Starred Review
“This amazing first novel is one of the most honest treatments of teenage sexuality to be found in YA fiction. . . . This will be much talked about, and every reader who has been swept away in a love affair will recognize its truth.”–Kliatt
“The kind of tell-it-like-it-is wisdom that comes from your best girlfriends. It’s irresistible.”–Libba Bray, New York Times bestselling author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels
“Candid free-verse novel . . . electrically charged.”–The Horn Book Magazine
“Stone's novel in verse, more poetic prose than poetry, packs a steamy, emotional wallop. . . . The lessons learned here, however, are important.”–Booklist
“It's fantastic–hip, edgy, and addicting. Sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, always real. Sure to be the new Forever.”–Cynthia Leitich Smith, award-winning author
“Every high-school age girl in the world needs to read this book, before they meet the proverbial bad boy.”–Teens Read Too!
“3 smart girls + 1 slick senior boy = 1 sharply observed novel about sex, sisterhood, and self-respect.”–Reading Rants!
A Bill's Best Book chosen by ALAN–the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English
“The next Vagina Monologues, . . . for the teen crowd.”–Donna Freitas, Belief.net columnist and author of Becoming a Goddess of Inner Poise
“Stone's intimate and honest work accurately depicts both the agony and ecstasy of teenage relationships from the inside out.”–VOYA, 4Q, 4P
Read an Excerpt
For the Record
I'm not stuck up.
There's a big difference.
If I was stuck up
I'd be one of those
"Oh look at me, I'm so pretty"
girls instead of just appreciating the fact that my cinnamon skin looks good year-round and I can hop in the shower after soccer or lacrosse,
throw on a clean sweatshirt,
sweep on some mascara,
let my hair loose from its pony,
and give any girl a serious run for her money.
And while I totally deserve my spot in Honors English
I'm happy to take my proper place in Algebra I, suffering alongside the rest of the mediocre math heads.
as far as high school boys go,
I'm not so floundering in self-esteem issues that I need someone's arm to hang on or someone's jersey number to cheer for to be a legitimate person,
like some people I know.
Man, to listen to Kim and Caroline chatter away all summer you'd think we've been waiting our whole pathetic lives just to graduate middle school and get to Point Beach High so we could date high school boys.
As if high school boys hold some kind of magical key to who we all really are.
The Whole Truth
All that stuff I just said is absolutely swear-to-God true,
but the rest of the truth the whole truth is lately
I don't have as tight a grip on my confidence as usual.
I mean, this is high school.
Sure, I was pretty popular in middle school,
but you never know how these things are going to turn out.
What if what Kim and Caroline call my natural look is considered totally lame in high school?
What if wanting to read during lunch makes me a total geek?
I don't fit in at all?
It's funny how one night can change the way you look at certain things.
I mean, I believe 100 percent that high school boys don't hold any magical key or anything but that's not the same as saying they're all bad.
Some of them aren't so bad.
I saw him across the gym before he saw me.
He was scoping things out at the Fall Fling,
looking for that one lucky freshman to win the prize of dancing with the studly senior.
I think he picked me because I looked right at him as if I couldn't care less.
I couldn't care more.
My heart was pounding,
Hit me like a surprise party you cross-your-heart had no idea anyone was throwing you.
Now, I have never understood all that he's-my-other-half soul mate stuff or when people sometimes talk about having an empty space inside or that they're missing pieces or something.
But then he walked over and fit himself right into my puzzle.
First (Real) Date: Part One
I think Mom is a little bit worried the first guy I'm dating is a senior.
She should know me better than that.
I never do anything
I don't want to do.
That's not going to change.
I mean, when everyone thought it was so cool to sit on the seawall and puff through a pack of Marlboro Lights,
I had a blast sitting there laughing,
telling them how truly stupid and uncool they really were, actually,
coughing and sputtering and wanting to puke,
yeah, real sexy,
Give me some credit.
I never do anything
I don't want to do.
He picks me up in his brand-new
I hate to admit it,
but he kind of cracked my cool-as-a-cucumber exterior
I tried to pull off at the dance
(even though I'm hoping he didn't notice I talked way too fast)
but now all he's talking about is how many horsepowers his stupid car has and the torque and how he almost picked cherry red but he's so stoked that they had this sweet ocean color come in at the last minute and I'm starting to think maybe
I made a
but I just smile and nod,
like the idiotic bobblehead planted in the middle of his dashboard,
pretending this is the most interesting conversation ever.
Man, I hope he doesn't keep this up too long.
We pull in to Smiles.
The parking lot is alive,
too many radio stations blaring kids making out in cars sitting on hoods eating hot dogs high-fiving smoking various things drinking various things talking too loud about nothing.
Inside the scene isn't all that different,
except it's another kind of dark punctuated by the bright lights of too many pulsing video games jammed up against each other.
We walk over to a big bunch of seniors by the batting cages he drapes his arm around me real possessive,
which should have immediately brought out my
but instead stirs this way-foreign tingly
"Oh my God, he really likes me" rush.
(Lame! Did I just actually think that?)
"Who's the babe? Freshmeat?" one of the jocks says,
right in front of my face.
"Get it? Freshmen, freshmeat?"
He's laughing hysterically,
like this is the most hilarious thing anyone has ever heard.
"Yeah, got it.
Guys, this is Josie."
A round of Hi's, How's It Goin's, and What's Up's are tossed in my general direction.
I never thought this scene would interest me but actually,
I feel really,
I don't know,
included, I guess,
with his arm wrapped around me pulling me into a group--
and not just any group:
the coolest, most popular group of seniors,
even though the guys are fairly juvenile.
"Hey, we're all heading over to Lindsey's in a while,"
one of the boys says.
"Time to party!"
"Okay. We'll hit that, too. All right, Jos?"
Although I'm not at all sure because my Mom would freak if she knew I was going to a senior party.
First (Real) Date: Part Two
We hang out at Smiles for a while,
eat some truly nasty pizza,
then head over to Lindsey's.
On the drive over he rests his hand on my thigh,
"Are you having a good time?"
"Good, I'm glad. I want you to have fun."
His hand is still on my thigh.
He's going on and on about something,
his car again, I think,
but I can't concentrate with his fingers moving back and forth like that and even though he's acting real innocent,
like he's got no goal or anything,
the heat from his fingers is searing through to my skin like one of those iron-on transfers.
I could almost bet when I look later his handprint will have been permanently imprinted on my leg.
Then he raises the stakes.
He moves his hand onto mine picks it up and puts it on his thigh.
He takes his eyes off the road for a second looks at me and smiles.
Like the big bad wolf.
If I was in a comic strip,
there'd be a bubble coming out of my head with the word "Gulp" in it.
From the Hardcover edition.