Monday, December 7, 2009
Review: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
Regina Afton used to be part of the most popular, most feared group of girls in the school. That is, until a supposed friend spreads a rumor about something happening between Regina and her best friend Anna’s boyfriend. In the span of a weekend, Regina goes from top-tier to most hated girl in school, the brunt of pranks and bullying that gets worse by the day. Regina ends up sitting at lunch with Michael, a quiet boy in her class whose reputation she helped ruin.
Building friendships with people who hated her isn’t easy, but eventually Regina and Michael seem to be connecting in a way that neither one of them could have imagined. With revenge planned out and a promising future, Regina’s life is looking up. However, her old friends—her tormentors—are not through with her yet, now that she has things to lose.
SOME GIRLS ARE is another powerful tale that establishes Courtney Summers as one of the most talented YA authors writing today. With her trademark simple but powerful writing, Summers explores the deepest, darkest sides of humanity that most of us are unwilling to admit actually exist.
Summers’ writing skips past the B.S. and overly excessive descriptions that often plague literature and get right to the heart of the story: nearly inexpressible raw emotions. Her words are the opposite of rich, and yet she expresses in one short sentence what other writers might take two pages doing. The writing draws you into Regina’s story and refuses to let you go, even through the most horrifying scenes, the ones you want to look away from, but can’t. Summers proves that simplicity is likely the best way to go in packing a punch.
The mean girls in SOME GIRLS ARE are a cross between the eighties John Hughes high school flicks and the nineties horror movies: you have trouble believing such horrid people can exist, and yet you hardly question their terrifying bullying. The combination of Summers’ writing style and the enthralling plot keeps your eyes glued to the pages even as worse forms of bullying than you can imagine keep unfolding. The way things build, it’s almost impossible to imagine how anyone could construct a happy ending to this story, but the ending that Summers gives us is ultimately satisfying, a well-earned bittersweetness that was difficult to achieve, and thus perfect.
It’s interesting and surprising how well we connect and empathize with Regina, who is, after all, one of the mean girls. Even in her fall she continues to plot and think like her old self, and readers can never be certain whether she has learned from what has happened to her or not. Similarly, Regina’s budding friendship and—later—relationship with Michael is unusual for a YA romance, but hardly unsatisfying. There is something delightful to be said about the subtle and unexpected way their relationship develops, and push-and-pull of old, simmering resentment and hatred versus new empathy and love.
Courtney Summers’ second novel removes all traces of doubt one might have about her writing power after her phenomenal debut novel, CRACKED UP TO BE. SOME GIRLS ARE is every bit as good as her first, and perhaps even better in terms of moral complexity. Courtney Summers is now firmly one of my favorite authors, and I will be a zealous devotee to any and every book she writes from now on.
Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak)
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Cover discussion: 4.5 out of 5 - It's just...wow! The colors and font are all vivid. Definitely eye-catching and appropriate for the mood of this book.
St. Martin's Press / Jan. 5, 2010 / Paperback / $9.99
Lucky me, I won this from a contest that Courtney held. So thanks, Courtney! :)