Walking Naked

Walking Naked

4.7 8
by Alyssa Brugman

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There are those who are popular.
There are those who are outcasts.
And there are those who must choose between the two.

Megan Tuw has always been popular. As a leader of her high school’s most cliquish group, she’s among the anointed girls who think nothing of ridiculing those who don’t fit in. That includes Perdita Wiguiggan—a


There are those who are popular.
There are those who are outcasts.
And there are those who must choose between the two.

Megan Tuw has always been popular. As a leader of her high school’s most cliquish group, she’s among the anointed girls who think nothing of ridiculing those who don’t fit in. That includes Perdita Wiguiggan—a classmate Megan and her friends openly refer to as the Freak. But Megan doesn’t know the first thing about Perdita, since she would never dream of talking to her. Only when the two girls are thrown together in detention does Megan begin to see Perdita as more than someone with an odd last name, as more than the school outcast. And slowly, Megan finds herself drawn into an almost-friendship.

Then Megan faces a choice: Perdita or the group?

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Megan Tuw and her friends are "smart, funny, pretty: everything you could want to be," but when Megan ends up in detention with the high school pariah, Perdita Wiguiggan, she begins to learn that the Freak has something the members of her clique lack. While their surreptitious friendship widens narrator Megan's limited perspective (poetry-obsessed Perdita takes her to a university course and to her abusive home), it also creates escalating tension between Megan and her girlfriends. Though the plot is fairly predictable, Australian author Brugman (here making her U.S. debut) does create a realistic, and chilling, peer group (Megan's friends hold "interventions" to keep one another in line over matters as trivial as hairstyle, and organize a "freedom of expression" protest when an older boy is arrested for streaking). Readers will also appreciate that Perdita is not just misunderstood, but truly weird ("Keep your breath to cool your porridge, Kitty," she says when Megan tries to explain why they can't hang out at school). Though the friendship between the two never quite reaches the same level of realism, readers will empathize with Perdita, and with Megan when she is ultimately forced to choose. Into the plot, the author weaves poems, including works by William Blake and Sylvia Plath, as well as some discussion of poetry, giving her misfit character depth and putting more ambitious work within her readers' grasp. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Despite all the talk of "glory days," high school is a hard time for many kids, especially if they are not popular. Megan Tuw, however, is in the popular group. In fact, she has turned being popular into a science. No one is allowed into her group without group consensus and when problems arise, they are dealt with in a "mature" way. Perdita is the exact opposite. She is not popular and has no desire to be. She is called "Freak" by the rest of the students. The real story begins, though, when Megan and Perdita are thrown together in detention. Megan has to choose whether being popular is more important than being a true friend. Do not think this book is another one of those feel- good-I-learned-my-lesson tales. Very little about the book feels good, and while Megan learns her lesson, it comes at a very high price. The story is deeply affecting and the characters ring true. This is the story that happens at most high schools. The book is a challenging read on many levels, however. The story line is subtle and the friendship moves slowly. It takes place in Australia and many cultural references will be lost on American readers. If a reader can get through all of that, however, the story is worth the work. 2002, Laurel-Leaf/Random House, Ages 14 to 18.
—Heather Mason
School Library Journal
Gr 7-9-Megan Tuw has always been popular and a leader of her clique-that is until she thinks her best friend, Candace, is joking about organizing a protest over some Year 12 guy getting in trouble for a nudey run (she's not joking). Then Candace starts spending more time with a girl whom Megan does not like. When she gets detention at the same time as outcast Perdita Wiguiggan, she finds to her surprise that the girl is more interesting than Candace. Readers are likely to agree as the unlikable, stereotypical clique members use one another to get whatever they think they need. In a predictable story that could have been a TV movie, Megan must decide if she wants to stay with the comfort zone of the clique or befriend Perdita and face outcast status. Readers never fully get to know Perdita as the story is told from Megan's point of view. And Megan seems clueless as to the harm done to her ("I was sure she didn't take it personally when we called her the Freak. That was just who she was"). Thus, Perdita's suicide comes as a shock to readers. To offset the contrived plot, the author intermingles poetry from the likes of William Blake and Sylvia Plath in an attempt to give depth to the characters.-Crystal Faris, Nassau Library System, Uniondale, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Megan Tuw, a not-very-likable teen, is self-absorbed and ruled by peer pressure. She bullies people in her group-her Australian high school's in-crowd-and ignores others who are "different" or not useful. Assigned detention for rudeness to a teacher, Megan gets to know Perdita Wiguiggan, an eccentric classmate, dubbed by her fellow students as "The Freak." As detention progresses, Megan reluctantly recognizes Perdita's brilliance and love of poetry while Perdita attempts to lure Megan into an unwanted intimacy that jeopardizes her standing in the group. The conflict between Megan's loyalty to her group and her budding admiration for Perdita's intelligence and ability to "walk naked" in the eyes of the world breaks down many of her defenses, leaving her bereft and enraged after Perdita commits suicide. Thoughtfully chosen, skillfully placed poetry by William Blake, Christina Rossetti, Andrew Taylor, and others enriches a provocative examination of peer pressure, the nature of loyalty and living with the consequences of betrayal. A painful look at the naked truth. (Fiction. YA)

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Random House Children's Books
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Read an Excerpt


I am responsible for a great many things, but being put on detention for talking in history was not my fault (not technically, anyway).

On that Monday, I was not nearly so interested in history as in Candice Perkins's story about what happened at Michael Sorrell's party on Saturday night.

Parties and dating were not usually my thing--that was Candice's domain--but there had been an arrest, and that piqued my interest.

Candice and Michael had been going out for about three months. They talked on the phone a couple of times a week and kissed at school socials, but that was about it.

The exciting thing that happened at Michael Sorrell's party (which was, technically, Michael's older brother's party) was that the police caught two of the Year 12 boys doing a nudey run.

"There were about six of them but only two of them got busted," explained Candice. "The others ran down the lane and hid behind the scout hall. One of them, Jacob--do you know Jacob?--he's over eighteen and might go to court. Can you believe it?"

I thought Candice seemed pleased with herself--it was quite a coup to be invited to a party with the Year 12s.

Candice and I had been best friends since kindergarten. We had all sorts of stupid sayings that had become ritual between us. We always said "Like, oh, yar, I know, totally," in a Valley girl voice.

Candice and I were the founders of "the group." I was the brains, she was the beauty, and in Year 4 we had begun to hang out with Jessica Chou as well. Jessica was pretty and smart, but not enough of either for Candice or me to feel threatened. It wasn't until Year 6 that we started recruiting in earnest, but I'll get to that.

On this particular day, our history teacher, Ms. Sloan, had asked us to be quiet more than once (I strongly suspected that Ms. Sloan was hypoglycemic, because lessons after lunch went much more smoothly than lessons before) and so we were, technically, being quiet. Of course, what Ms. Sloan meant was "be silent"--and if she had been clear on that point, then I might not have ended up in detention.

Candice and I were whispering quietly when Ms. Sloan said, "Right! That's it! Out!"

I'd never been sent out in my life. Candice had--mostly for talking. I politely slid in my chair so that Candice could leave.

Ms. Sloan found this gesture somewhat provocative. "Both of you!"

"What, me?"

"Yes, you!"

I wasn't familiar with thrown-out-of-class protocol. "Do I take my bag? Or will it just be for a short time? Where do we go? Do we just stand outside the door? Or is it sort of like an early mark?"

I wasn't being difficult, I swear. I was just trying to establish the procedure.

"Out! Out! Out!"

A moment later Candice and I were out in the hall.

"So you reckon Jacob is going to court?" I asked.

"I know, can you believe it? Michael said that all of the Year Twelve boys that are seventeen are going to hold a Grand Nudey Run in protest. When they get busted they can't get a record. I mean, it's just ridiculous."

"Ridiculous," I agreed. It didn't occur to me at the time that Candice and I might not have meant the same thing.

A movement at the end of the hallway caught my attention. I turned my head and saw Perdita Wiguiggan crossing the hallway. She was scooting along with her head down and a stack of books pressed against her chest.

I made the sign of the cross. Candice did the same and said, "Freak," loudly enough for Perdita to hear, but not loudly enough to draw attention to us.

Every school has one. They are ugly or fat. They have scars or acne or birthmarks. Or maybe it's just something about them that doesn't quite fit with our cherry-lipgloss, video-hits view of how teenagers should be?

We are mean to them. We call them names. We ridicule them. We make monsters of them. We don't want to stand near them or sit next to them. They repulse us.

Perdita Wiguiggan was one of those. How unfortunate for her to have a name that was hard to say--Purdeetah Wigweegan--on top of being the most despised creature in the whole school.

If you had asked me how I felt about her I would have said that I hated her, but I couldn't have told you why. "I just hate her," I would have said with a dismissive shrug.

Maybe it was the way she walked. Perdita Wiguiggan hunkered down with her shoulders stooped and her chin forward. She took long clomping strides like a man. It was a very ungraceful walk.

Three things can happen to people like Perdita Wiguiggan. One, they become incredibly successful. They are your rocket scientists, your academics. Einstein was one of them. They found billion-dollar dot-com companies. They become rock stars--Kurt Cobain was probably one. Janis Joplin certainly was.

Two, they can stay shunned and pitied and live shallow lives on the periphery of society. They get low-paid jobs and roll from one dysfunctional, abusive relationship to another because they don't believe that they deserve to be treated any better. Why should they? No one ever has treated them any better.

Or they can end up like Perdita, but I'll get to that.

After Perdita had gone, Mr. Tilly, who was our deputy principal and one of my very favorites, walked past and said, "Megan Tuw, what are you doing out here?"

My name is Megan Tuw. I suppose it's quite convenient, as there are frequent occasions at which I am not the only Megan. It does mean, though, that I am never the primary Megan. I am, at best, only the runner-up Megan.

This was the case when Megan Hadenham was recruited into the group. I was opposed to Megan Hadenham from the beginning. She didn't seem to have anything new to bring to the group, and besides, having more than one Megan would be confusing. Jessica Chou pointed out that we couldn't exactly ask her to change her name.

"Maybe we could call you Tuwy?" suggested Dara Drinkwater. I didn't like Dara Drinkwater. She was always casually suggesting that I compromise. I don't like to compromise. Dara's offhand recommendations always got up my nose.

"Do you know where the name Peterson came from, Dara?" I asked. "And the names Davidson, Williamson, Harrison or Jameson?"

"What are you talking about?"

"They all mean 'son of': son of Peter, son of David, son of William, and so on. Do you get it? Peter and David and William came first. If you did it the other way around you would have all of these people wandering about called Peterdad, Daviddad, Williamdad. See?"

Dara tossed her head. "You're not Megan Hadenham's dad, Tuwy."

"The person who comes first gets the name, Drinky."

"Maybe we could allocate her a nickname, like Haddy or something?" suggested Jessica Chou. Jessica was always stepping in to defuse fights between Dara and me.

Unfortunately this never transpired. From that day onward Megan Hadenham was Megan, and I became Megan Tuw. This is a matter that I still consider to be grossly unfair.

Meanwhile, back in the hallway. "I've been sent out," I replied indignantly to Mr. Tilly.

"Really? What did you do?" he asked with a twinkle in his eye. Mr. Tilly was genuinely amused by the company of youths. That was why he was one of my very favorites.

"I was talking."

Just as I was about to bring Mr. Tilly up to speed on the whole quiet versus silence discrepancy, Ms. Sloan decided that our exile was over. She opened the door, and because I was leaning against it, I fell backward into the room and landed on my bum.

Mr. Tilly and Candice thought this was tremendously funny. Ms. Sloan did not.

"Quite the clown, aren't we?"

"Well, Ms. Sloan, technically, I am the only clown in this scenario," I said, standing and straightening my school skirt with as much dignity as I could muster, having just sprawled across the floor. "So perhaps the use of the plural is not entirely appropriate."

Ms. Sloan's eyes narrowed into uncharitable slits. "A week's detention, miss."

That's how I ended up in detention. As you can see, technically, I was entirely blameless.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Alyssa Brugman attended five different schools in New South Wales, Australia and completed a business degree at Newcastle University. She began writing at the age of twenty-two.

Walking Naked is Alyssa's second published novel. Her first, Finding Grace, was shortlisted for a number of literary awards, including the Children's Book Council Book of the Year Award (Older Readers) and the New South Wales Premier's Award (Ethel Turner Prize). She now lives in Sydney and works in public relations.

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Walking Naked 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All i have to say is that this book was really good, it was a real eye opener. i read it with my nieces and it showed them not to let others have a role over who they want to be friends with. it also helped them to see that everyone needs a friend and even if you are different, we need to feel needed and cared for no mater how old we are.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
FIGURATIVE! But anyway I loved this book. it really showed that you shouldnt judge a book by its cover and also that just cuz ur part of the 'clique', it doesnt mean that they are your real friends.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I never read books but after a friend recommended this book to me I could not put t down! 10/10 5 STARS!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Even though I do not usually read high school dramas, I gave this one a chance. It is a huge contrast to the usual stories out there. With an incredibly shocking ending and disturbing moments, this book deserves five stars.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely LOVE this book, I really couldn't put it down. I don't like to read books, but once i picked this one up i couldn't give it up. I just had to know what came next. The ending is so unpredicatable. It was great
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was an interesting story. I never expected it to end like that so suddenly. It showed another side to the typical outcast story. We saw that even the teaser struggles with their new attraction to friendship with someone who is not considered normal. It is a good read and every teen girl should read it.