It is unusual to give a rave review to a book with no discernable plot and riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, but this one is a rather unusual book. When Sophie, Courtney, Julia, and Lindsey begin freshman year at New York City's prestigious Stuyvesant High School in 2001, they decide to create a shared diary to chronicle the ups and downs of their daily lives. Over several years, their notebook records gossip, dating, fighting, sex, experiments with drugs and alcohol, and their struggles with religion and sexuality. The notebook is presented as a facsimile of the original, containing the girls' own handwriting, photos, and doodling on each page. Their lives do not contain many of the dramatic issues often chronicled in young adult novels, such as pregnancy, violence, or addiction. Nevertheless it is a true and very humorous account of what is really happening in the lives of "good kids." Teenage girls will love the realistic portrayal of the problems that they are facing, as well as the voyeuristic look into the lives of other girls. In no way does the book moralize or present dire consequences to the girls' actions, which might, along with some graphic language and artwork, trouble some parents. Both parents and educators of teenage girls, though, will want to read it to have a better understanding of what their girls are thinking and saying to one another privately. The notebook is highly recommended for all young adult collections. VOYA CODES: 5Q 5P J S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended forYoung Adults). 2006, Warner, 352p., Ages 12 to Adult.
Adult/High School-In 2002, during the second half of their freshman year at Manhattan's Stuyvesant High School, four girls began to keep a shared notebook that served as a joint diary and a compendium of letters to one another. Edited only by the authors during the writing and initial reading process, the volume serves as a front-row seat on those aspects of the teens' lives that they deemed interesting or important enough to record. The reproduction of the notebook maintains their handwriting as well as photocopies of the snapshots, sketches, and occasional wrappers and other realia they inserted into its pages. Stuyvesant High is a public exam school, and these girls are brainy, well-educated, and conscious of class. Across the years-the notebook ends midway through their junior year-they show themselves to be self-centered, bold, and whiny by turns, as well as insightful, playful, and in possession of the other hallmark moods one expects from contemporary teenage girls in middle-class America. Their behaviors may seem extreme in some parts of the country while equally expected in others: they drink, engage in sex with varying degrees of protection, explore illicit drugs, procrastinate about homework, and are generally free of politically correct speech about any group-whether "other" or themselves. Their willingness to expose their adolescence to readers makes their story, or combined stories, engrossing. Readers who like Ann Brashares's fiction may also line up to explore the gritty reality presented here.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.