Wednesday, June 20, 2012
The List Changes Everything
In high school there are the "hot" girls and the "not-so-hot" girls, but no one writes it down on paper. It is not something out in the open for everyone to see. In Siobhan Vivian's The List, those girls are labeled ugliest and hottest girl for each class, and the label will change them forever.
Every year the List comes out. There is an ugliest girl and a hottest girl in each grade. No one knows who makes the lists or how the official (stolen) school seal that marks the official list gets passed down from year to year, but they accept the list as a part of their high school lives. This year is no different from previous years for most people, but it is a life-changer for the 8 girls on the list. One has been on the list all 4 years of her high school career... as the ugliest girl in her grade. One only makes the list after her anorexia slims her down. One embraces her Ugly status by writing UGLY across her forehead and refusing to shower for the whole week leading up to the Homecoming game.
But one thing is for certain: the list affects every single girl it names. And while you might think it would help the lives of the Hottest girls, you would be miserably wrong. Being named Hottest only makes your friends jealous and guys think they have a right to hit on you or think you are a trophy to be won. Being on the list tests every relationship you have ever had, your values, and worst of all, what you think of yourself. The List has changed these girls... but you won't believe how.
This was a deceptively awesome book, I must say. I assumed it would be rife with cliches and stereotypes and full of pink plush morals and "typical", but it really wasn't. Instead, it surprised me. Time and time again, what happened to these girls REALLY surprised me. I thought I knew what was going to happen to the Ugly girls vs. the Hot girls, but I found myself flipping the pages time and time again with that "What the heck?!" shocked look on my face. It was a really refreshing read! But at the same time, it was a frighteningly accurate reveal into the world of high school culture. We, as adults, sit on the outside of the true happenings of our schools, and although we have lived through it, we have also outgrown it, making our opinions jaded. I mean, can you honestly remember what it felt like to live through high school? I can honestly say I have tried somewhat (un)successfully to block it from my mind, but every now and then I see something going on where I teach and all those memories come rushing back.
This would be an excellent book for any high school aged girl through adult trying to understand the lives and roles of teenagers these days. And to try and pretend judgment and criticism are not a part of adolescence is simply ridiculous. Sometimes we, as adults, just need to immerse ourselves in their world, even through a story like this one, to see the truth of what they live through every day. It might make you a little more sympathetic as you give them detention or scold them for not finishing their work. We see the world through our adult eyes, but we forget that as teenagers, we didn't even know who we were at that point. Vivian did a great job with this story explaining the lives of teenagers and I am sure all adolescents would find at least one character to relate to. Even if they don't want to admit it!