The Girls (Young Adult Series)

Overview

The girls: Maya, Brianna, Darcy, Renée...and popular, fascinating, dangerous Candace. Five friends ruled by one ringleader who plays games to test their loyalty—and then decides who's in the group and who's out. Each of the girls has her say in this fast-paced and absolutely believable novel set in the war zone of middle school cliques. The author of the highly praised The Ashwater Experiment, Amy Koss has once again crafted a "truly original piece of fiction brimming with humor and insight."—Starred Horn Book ...
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Overview

The girls: Maya, Brianna, Darcy, Renée...and popular, fascinating, dangerous Candace. Five friends ruled by one ringleader who plays games to test their loyalty—and then decides who's in the group and who's out. Each of the girls has her say in this fast-paced and absolutely believable novel set in the war zone of middle school cliques. The author of the highly praised The Ashwater Experiment, Amy Koss has once again crafted a "truly original piece of fiction brimming with humor and insight."—Starred Horn Book review for The Aswater Experiment

Each of the girls in a middle-school clique reveals the strong, manipulative hold one of the group exerts on the others, causing hurt and self-doubt among the girls.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Koss's suspenseful and realistic portrayal of a popular middle school clique's devolution unfolds though six narrators. In a starred review, PW said, "Readers will identify with and remember these characters, and may think twice before sacrificing their individuality for the sake of popularity." Ages 10-14. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Each chapter of The Girls by Amy Goldman Koss, is told from the point of view of one of five different middle-school-age girls. Although the book could slip into cliché, it doesn't because Goldman Koss captures the details of these young friendships with pinpoint accuracy. Most people can remember being flooded with misery when a friend's mother answered the phone and said something like, "She's on her way to Darcy's.... Aren't you going too, dear?" and—bam—it feels like a door slamming in one's face. The first voice in The Girls is Maya's describing that bam feeling. "That's when tears filled my eyes. I suddenly had no friends. I tried to think of someone I could call...But it had been so long, and I guess I'd dropped everyone else when Candace and her crowd had come along." Maya knows that her time of being in with the in crowd—Candace's crowd—is over. Though the chapters are short and zippy, each of the five girls' personalities emerges. Their parents also seem real and, alas, mostly ready to brush off both their children's aches and ethical dilemmas. When Renee admits that she feels guilty over her treatment of Maya, her mother says, "You're not responsible for someone else's guest list. Save your squirms for your own embarrassing mistakes." Maya's father tells her only, "Maybe you'll never laugh about this, but one day it won't hurt quite so badly." For now, it does hurt badly. By the time Maya heads to school on Monday she is crouching between cars, trying to hide from her so-called "friends." The other girls in the group are also suffering, all agonizing about how to keep Candace's friendship and not become the outcast like Maya. It is often hard totell where Candace's loyalties are or who she will turn on next. One of the girls is picturing being torn to shreds. Another is thinking "My parents are falling apart, my friends were falling apart. I could picture myself falling apart limb by limb, scattered arms and legs, vertebrae and ribs—like a mess of fried chicken bones after a meal." The painful knot unravels perhaps a bit less agonizingly than in real life, but young readers will feel a satisfying thump of justice at an ending that not only shows the three outcast girls choosing to befriend each other, outside the orbit of the nasty Candace, but also shows Candace's number-one toady about to head for a fall. 2000, Dial, $16.99. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Jane Kurtz Goering — The Five Owls, January/February 2001 (Vol. 15 No. 3)
From The Critics
The Girls explores the dynamics of middle school cliques that one of my colleagues calls, "the vicious sixth grade game." Koss' use of the first person narrative adds an appealing depth to what might have been an otherwise trivial account of a usual adolescent tale of woe. Instead, each of the story's five girls reveals the strong manipulative hold the leader has on both them and their peer group. Koss clearly knows her subject. As she examines the nature of friendships in this fragile age group of preadolescents, we walk away with an understanding of not only the hurt and betrayal inherent in clique relationships, but also an added appreciation for the resilience and maturity required of these very young ladies. Funny, honest, and fast-paced, The Girls will appeal to middle school readers, and it is perfect for in-class reading and discussion. Genre: Friendship 2000, Dial, 121p
Children's Literature
Beautiful and popular Candace calls all the shots. When she picks Maya to join her select group of friends, Maya is on top of the world. Then, bam! She's dumped as suddenly and inexplicably as she was picked. Koss recreates the joys and cruelties of middle school cliques so convincingly that the reader can hear the giggles and feel the mortification. The story is told from the alternating firstperson viewpoints of all five girls who form the clique. Though their voices are similar, their perspectives are not, giving this tale of peer pressure and popularity an interesting twist. Seeing five ways of interpreting the same events endows this version with a more complex psychological involvement than is found in most treatments of this familiar subject. Especially intriguing is the glimpse into the mind of Candace, the controlling queen, whose thoughts and motivations may surprise and enlighten readers. Meanwhile, Maya's journey to discovering her real friends is engaging and fastpaced. 2000, Dial, Ages 8 to 12, $16.99. Reviewer: Betty Hicks
KLIATT
To quote KLIATT's November 2000 review of the hardcover edition: It's a cruel, cruel world—especially if you're a seventh-grade girl and the leader of your clique has just dumped you. Maya, daughter of Russian immigrants and new to the suburbs of L.A., is devastated when beautiful, manipulative Candace abruptly rejects her. The other three girls in the clique are disturbed too, we discover, as chapters alternate between each girl's point of view and lay bare their doubts and insecurities...Candace, with secret fears of her own, is beginning to get fed up with friends who feel like "leeches." She starts to take up with a new girl, Nicole—and Reneé, Brianna, and Maya get together and realize that they're relieved to be out from under Candace's thumb, no longer forced to put up with her cruel games and worry about pleasing her. In a neat ending, however, we hear from Nicole, who is flattered to be chosen by Candace, as the cycle of popularity and rejection begins again. There's a Candace at every middle school, and younger adolescent girls will find it easy to relate to this realistic, insightful tale by the author of The Ashwater Experiment and other novels for young readers. The girls' emotional ups and downs, as well as the underlying message about rejecting this kind of power trip friendship, are conveyed clearly and believably. Sure to be a hit in middle school and junior high schools. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2000, Penguin, Puffin, 122p.,
— Paula Rohrlick
VOYA - Voya Reviews
The book held my interest. It is set up so that every chapter gives the point of view of a different character. All the girls have a hard time telling how they feel about what is going on with their clique. I enjoyed having to continue reading to learn what the others thought. I also think that the characters in the book are very realistic. The way they talk is how real people talk. Fitting into a clique is a very real problem that many kids deal with every day. Girls will enjoy this book more than boys because the book is all about girls and their problems. The reading level is for middle school students. This is good because the main characters are in middle school and kids like to read about people their own age. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2000, Dial, Ages 12 to 15, 128p, $16.99. Reviewer: Jamie Esposito, Teen Reviewer
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-When the other members of Maya's clique decide to ostracize her, the girl is shocked and devastated. She has no clue what she could have done wrong, and neither do Brianna, Ren e, or Darcy. However, Candace is their leader, the self-assured one, the one who decides who's in and who's not, and, suddenly, Maya's not. In brief chapters that jump from one girl's perspective to another, a picture emerges of social status and peer pressure among middle schoolers who are struggling to figure out who they are, where they belong, and maybe even what is right. The voice of each character is clear and will be familiar to any adolescent. Koss's exceptional skill at evoking not only the girls, but also their families, makes this an important story for those in the midst of the cruelty of middle-school society. This provocative page-turner will be passed from one girl to the next like a note with the latest gossip.-Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, FL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786229116
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/2000
  • Series: Young Adult Series
  • Pages: 143
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Amy Koss

AMY GOLDMAN KOSS is the author of several acclaimed teen novels, including The Girls, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and Poison Ivy (available from Square Fish). She lives in Glendale, CA, with her family, and she’s on the web at www.amygoldmankoss.net.

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