Monday, June 21, 2010

Review - Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Summary: Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard--falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around.

Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.

Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be

Review: It would be over simplification to compare this book to Mean Girls, but as I was reading I kept having the thought that if Tarantino or Scorsese made Mean Girls, this would be it. Some Girls Are is a powerful, gritty, gut-wrenching look at “those girls.” The popular, “it” girls from high school who seemed to have it all, but through the course of reading Some Girls Are, you realize they’re just as scared and insecure and screwed up as anyone else.

I practically devoured this book, reading it in the span of an hour and a half train ride (and many times got some strange looks from other passengers as I did my best to keep from crying more than once on my ride). If I had one word to describe this book, as clichĂ© as it is, I would call it raw. It bares its soul, all its the darkness and complexity without any sort of filter. There were moments when I wanted to scream at the main character, Regina, to just let it go, to stop trying to even the score; I cried at each injustice that befell her even though she acknowledges she is far from innocent in creating Anna’s reign of terror (her former best friend and resident Queen Bee); I felt as helpless as Regina as the group tortured her emotionally and even physically; and, like her, even found some humor in the darkness of it all.

I didn’t particularly like Regina, (though I don’t know if I’ve hated anyone as much as I hated her nemesis, Kara) but I think that was the point. As you learn more about Regina, you realize this is not a good person. Not that she’s a bad person either. As much as I wanted the war between her and the “Fearsome Foursome” to end, there was something admirable about Regina’s rage. She wasn’t going down without a fight, not matter the cost to her reputation, physical well-being, even her future. Summers writes without judgment and allows the reader to feel what they will toward Regina: sympathy, horror, amusement, or even a sense of vindication; the girl who tortured so many others got what she deserved.

I’ve been watching a lot of AMC’s Breaking Bad recently and this book reminded me of the style of that show: tense, emotionally draining, and a bit of a relief when it’s over and you can thank God your life isn’t like that. Yes, the adults (when they do show up) are slightly one dimensional, but it isn’t about family life. This is about the horrors of high school and the effect bullying can have as both the victim and perpetrator. My high school experience wasn’t particularly bad, but after finishing this book I found myself glad that part of my life was behind me.

Lit Snit Verdict: A

Erin’s next book review is Caprice Crane’s A Family Affair


  1. I'm glad you recommended this one also. I think what kept me riveted is that the actions were unfathomable. I can't imagining that actually happening in high school. Heck, I'd be frightened if it happened NOW. I found it to be too gritty at times and had to put it down.

  2. I read so many good reviews about this books.
    Luckily my high school experience was very different but (in a good way) ... I remember insecurities & bad jokes but not actual bullying.

  3. Janelle: I know! Everything just kept spiraling out of control with Regina and her former friends to the point where I just wanted it to stop. You can't believe someone would do something like what these girls are doing to each other but then you read something in the paper about a kid that either tried or did kill themselves and you realize this isn't that far off sometimes. It's scary but I loved how Summers dealt with it all with a very realistic voice. I was just emotionally drained after reading this one.

    Emily: I had the same kind of experience as you in high school, but it really makes you stop and think about how you treat others even as an adult. It's got a great message without being preachy at all.

  4. [...] really loved The Duff.  So much so I think I’d put it up there with Some Girls Are and The Sky is Everywhere as my favorite YAs so far this year (maybe ever).  The Duff [...]