My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.”
----Simone de Beauvoir
Siobhan Vivian, the New York Times bestselling author, has penned an incredibly enlightening and an entrancing contemporary young adult fiction, The List in which the author has woven a story about eight high school teenage girls from various grades who are picked up for a list that labels four of the girls as the ugliest in their high school and rest four as the prettiest, but little did they knew that before the homecoming dance, this list would actually ruin their lives and their relationships, no matter how good or bad they are labelled as.
This riveting exploration of physical appearance and the status it confers opens a cultural conversation that’s needed to happen for a long time.
Every year during homecoming week, a list is posted anonymously at Mount Washington High naming the prettiest and ugliest girls in each class. Abby, who finds it easier to get credit for her looks than hard work, and Danielle, whose swimmer’s physique gets her labeled “ugly,” are this year’s freshman duo. The list confers instant status, transforming formerly home-schooled sophomore Lauren from geeky to hot while consigning her counterpart, pretty-but-mean Candace, to pariah. But what the label mainly confers is anxiety. Prettiest junior Bridget despairs that she’ll ever be thin enough to merit her title; Sarah takes refuge in anger, vowing to earn her ugly label big-time. Jennifer, four-time “ugliest” winner, tries to relish the notoriety. Margo’s title should make her the slam-dunk choice for homecoming queen, but will it? Whether clued in or clueless to the intricate social complexities, boyfriends reinforce the status quo, while moms carry scars of their own past physical insecurities.
The issue is seldom front and center in books for teens, but Vivian refuses to falsify or avoid the uncomfortable realities that looks alone confer status, and their power is greatest when obscured by the pretense that “looks don’t matter.”
Mount Washington High school turns into a nightmare for some girls and into a boon from an evil curse for a handful of girls, every year in the month of September, right before the Homecoming day when a Homecoming King and Queen is elected. Every year from the freshmen to sophomore to junior to senior grades, two girls are picked or rather say, labelled as "ugly" or "pretty" in The List that decides the fate of the eight teenage girls on whether they would win the title or not. Little did girls like, Abby, Danielle, Lauren, Candace, Bridget, Sarah, Jennifer and Margo knew that they would make the list that year and that would completely change their personal as well as social lives and circles, for the better or for the worse, but whatever the outcome is, this list is going to destroy their relationships and friendships. But can the girls overcome this challenge or will they ever find out who is behind this social stigma?
This is the first time that I read any books by this author and before picking up a copy of this book, I wasn't expecting much from this particular book. And boy, oh boy, it surprised me a lot, not because of the author's writing style or prose, but only because of the story line that the author has flawlessly created and that gripped me through out the entire story line. The sharp edge of brutal honesty reflects from each and every pages and that astounded me on how much real the story line felt and how vividly the author captured about a fragile and young world where body shaming can ruin some one's future.
The author's writing style is okay, not that perfect or coherent, because there are eight main characters and sometimes it feels tedious to read about the drama happening in their lives. The narrative is dull yet it has that power to stimulate the young minds, and sways smoothly with the pace of the book. The one problem is that the dialogues lack the depth of emotions, although from the grounds of social morality, the whole story is going to incite anger many young teenagers and their parents and eventually finding resolutions and closure in the climax.
The characters are well developed, but since there are so many characters, somewhere in the story line, their personal stories get overlapped eventually that will leave the readers a bit confused. The main eight characters reflect authenticity and realism thorough their demeanor. Their fight and struggle to overcome from the label, be it good or bad is real to the very core and is bound to strike a chords with those who have faced the same situation in their lives. The supporting characters are good enough and peak the interest level of the story line.
The issues that this book raise are very much real and every single day, girls are becoming a victim to this social stigma. And the author deals with this cause with much sensitivity and emotions that will motivate the common people especially the parents and the teachers of the victims to curb this social stigma from spreading. The author sends a strong message through this book and it hits rightly through the souls of the people and encourages them to take a step against this issue of body shaming and labeling young girls upon their beauty, looks and figure.
In a nutshell, this is a must read book for not only the young teenage girls but also for their parents and teachers, that will compel them from their very core to understand the gravity of such a social issue.
Verdict: A book that narrates many every day fights of young and ambitious teenage girls.
Courtesy: Thanks to the publishers from Harper Collins India for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.
Siobhan Vivian is the author of THE LAST BOY AND GIRL IN THE WORLD (April 2016), as well as THE LIST, NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL, SAME DIFFERENCE, and A LITTLE FRIENDLY ADVICE. She also co-wrote BURN FOR BURN series with her best friend JENNY HAN. She currently lives in Pittsburgh.
Visit her here
Book Purchase Links: