It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.
This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two."
- Publisher: Push (Scholastic)
- Release date: April 1, 2012
- Page count: 332
- Would appeal to: Fans of Mean Girls
"Sarah's steps are comically laborious-- flat-footed trudges, punctuated by tortured sighs, the toes of her sneakers dragging across the linoleum floor."
"With that, the potential for a little summer fling, a chance to try out love with a boy for a few weeks, turned into a bigger, more exciting possibility."
"Fern dabs at her mouth with a paper napkin and then lets the wad of thin paper drop onto her plate, where it blooms red with the juices from her steak."
"It is as if the night, an amazing memory that she could have looked back on forever, has already been ripped out of her diary."
Everyone who is or has been a teen will find something to relate to in this book. The premise is actually genius because it investigates the cruel hierarcy of every high school I know of. In the story, a list comes out each year, the prettiest and ugliest girl of each grade named and plastered around campus. I've never actually seen this happen at school, but judgments happen on a daily basis. This is an excellent example of how one person's (or a group's) opinions can change someone's reputation in a heartbeat.
All the girls have different situations. You have a not-so-smart beauty, a muscular swimmer trying to hold on to her first love, a pretty girl with a heart of ice, a home schooled girl rising in the ranks, a punk with attitude, a girl with a harmful secret, someone who's been on the list all four years, and then the shoo-in for homecoming queen. No matter how much each person thinks she's got her act together, the list creates complications, even for the prettiest ones.
At first I thought I'd get confused with following eight different stories. I kept my thumb at the page with the list and flipped back a few times. But the stories were so unique that by the second time I read each, I had them straight in my head.
I was so immersed in each girl's drama that I forgot to guess who was responsible for making the list. It was a nice surprise. And this book has one of the best endings I've seen in a long time. It was like the cherry on top of a peanut butter hot fudge sundae and will stick with me as a perfect, clever resolution.
Written with an effortlessly mature voice but still cutting to the core of serious social issues, Siobhan Vivian's The List kept me interested from start to finish. This would be a great mandatory read for 9th or 10th grade as part of an anti-bullying campaign.