Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mostly Good Girls, by Leila Sales

Mostly Good GirlsViolet attends Westfield, which is the best all girls preparatory academy in Boston.  But, Violet is not your standard prep school girl.  Her parents both work hard to pay the exorbitant tuition, and Violet herself works hard to meet the ridiculously high standards, both social and academic.  It is now her junior year, and it seems as though both she and her best friend Katie are at a turning point.  Katie has always come upon things easily in life.  Beautiful, wealthy, athletic, smart, Katie easily gets everything Violet has to struggle for.  This book documents, in Violet's voice, what is what like to navigate through this leg of the journey toward adulthood.

This book seemed a little incongruous to me.  I mean, it is a young adult book, marketed for age 14 and up, and in one chapter, the girls are doing something completely innocent and age appropriate, like giving Harry Potter themed tours of the school, and the next chapter they are tossing around words like slut.  I found that the characters were a little inconsistent in that way.  I guess in some ways, this is an accurate portrayal of teens at that age, and for Katie's character it made sense, but not for Violet's.  Overall, I found Violet's character underdeveloped, and her narrative voice a little weak.

Perhaps I am a bit of a prude when it comes young adult books portraying teen drinking, sexuality, and swearing.  I am no fool, yes, I know these things go on, but I do not like it when books glamorize them or correlate them to "normal" teenage behaviors.  I think a young adult book can be strong and relate well to teens and not include those aspects, so I was disappointed to see several aspects of drinking, sex, and R-rated language in the book.  Definitely not appropriate for 14 year old readers.

I did like the style of the book, it was set up almost like a journal, with Violet telling the story through short entries, that were often mini-stories in and of themselves.I would have liked to have see some of the more "proper" or stereotypical characters one would expect to find at a posh Boston area prep school.

Overall, it was not a terrible book, but I certainly would not recommend for readers under the age of 17.  Releases October 5, 2010.

A touring review copy of this book was made available courtesy of Traveling ARC Tours.