Thursday, August 13, 2015

YA Thursday

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers (St. Martin's Griffin trade paperback, 5 January 2010).

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog about young adult books that deal with sexual assault.  One of the books I discussed as Courtney Summers' All the Rage, about a high school girl who is raped at a party, but no one believes her when she tries to report it.

A few weeks ago, Some Girls Are, also by Summers, was in the news when it was removed from a South Carolina high school reading list after a parent complained.  

There will be spoilers in the following summary of the plot.

The book is about high school senior Regina Afton, who barely escapes being raped by her "best friend" Anna's boyfriend.  She tells another member of Anna's clique about it, and when she gets to school on Monday, find that Kara has spread rumors that she seduced the boy.  Almost everyone in the school immediately ostracizes Regina.

She is bullied mercilessly by Anna and her followers: Regina is pushed down the stairs, and somehow her locker is filled with rotting raw meat.

Regina admits that she has been guilty of bullying and rumor-mongering herself; that was how she got into Anna's clique to begin with.  And despite now being able to see what truly horrible people are in this group, Regina still longs to be part of it.  

When she finally realizes that she'll never be accepted again, Regina attempts revenge, using tactics that are just as cruel as those that were used against her.

Some Girls Are received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.  It was a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults pick in 2011, a YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, as well as a nominee for the Ontario Library Association's White Pine Award the same year.

The Charleston parent, who was reading the book along with her daughter, "got to page 74 – and a crude reference to oral sex – before she’d had enough. The next morning, she confiscated her daughter’s e-reader and called the school."*

After contacting the chairman of the school's English department and the district board, she filed a complaint with the district asking for a committee to review the book.  But before the committee could meet, the book was pulled from the curriculum and replaced by another, more innocuous title.  The parent also wrote a letter to the Post and Courier about the issue.

As a minister's daughter who was raised in a very strict household, I wasn't allowed to date or to go to school dances.  But I was allowed, and even encouraged, to read whatever I wanted to.  I  was also bullied in school, and the descriptions of bullying in Summers' novel rang true.  To me, Some Girls Are is more a story about bullying and its effects than anything else. 

Summers herself, in a Tumblr post, says 
The novel explores the consequences of hurting people and asks us to consider the impact our actions have on others. It’s about picking up the pieces of our mistakes and bettering ourselves. It’s about forgiveness.
And why wouldn't a parent want her child to read about that?

*Charleston Post and Courier, July 28, 2015

FTC Full Disclosure:  I borrowed this book from my local library.


  1. This issue is always a challenging one. I remember telling a teacher that I would prefer my own daughter (5th grade) didn't read Speak, but I didn't ask the teacher to remove it from the curriculum or the library.

    As someone who works with middle school and high school English teachers, I discuss it frequently with my own students: how will you justify your reading selections to parents who raise issues of inappropriateness (for all the familiar reasons)? Fortunately, in the school district where most of my students will teach, books are almost never challenged, yet I want my students to be ready by thinking carefully about why they've selected a book and what they hope their own students will gain from reading it.

    1. Well said, Lizzie. I think it's great that your students are given the opportunity to consider their selections. Wouldn't it be nice if more parents (and administrators) felt that way!