Title: Want to Go Private?
Author: Sarah Darer Littman
Released: August 01, 2011
Page #: 330
Source: My public library
"When Abby meets Luke online, she can't believe her luck. He's nice. He's funny. He listens to her and he thinks she's pretty. He even gets jealous of other guys, which is adorable. Without Luke, Abby's not sure how she'd make it through her first year of high school. Everyone, including her mom and her best friend, Faith, tells Abby that if she just made more of an effort, she'd be having fun instead of dreading each and every day as if it's a prison sentence. But there's nothing fun about being the lowest link in the social food chain.
Abby knows she's not supposed to chat with random guys online. But Luke isn't random, and he isn't a stranger. Best of all, he loves her. So what if she never goes out with her friends anymore and her grades are slipping? All she needs is Luke. Luke is her secret, and she's his - it's perfect that way. So when Luke suggests that they meet each other in person, Abby agrees. And then she's gone. Missing. Without a trace. And everyone is left to put together the pieces. If they don't, they'll never see Abby again."
"'How can you not be excited?'
Faith, my best friend since second grade, is lying on the edge of the swimming pool watching the ripples as she trails her slim fingers through the water."
You guys, this book was way more than I was bargaining for. I was not anticipating quite the intense story. Just amazing... and heart-wrenching.
Abby is a typical freshman - nervous about starting high school and wondering if her friendships are going to last. When she starts to chat with this guy online, she gets way more than she bargained for. He became her best friend, confidant and love. He was the only person who really understood her and she pulled away from everyone and everything in real life. Then things started to get more physical. Abby then goes missing and everyone has to follow her online trail to find out what happened.
Okay, so I have done some online chatting in my day. Still do, to a much smaller extent. In fact, chatting is how I met my husband. So, when it's all said and done, chatting isn't always a horrible thing. But when it's a 14 year old girl chatting with a 27 year old man... it's definitely not okay. Really, it's fairly disturbing. That was one thing that ran through my head as I read this story. I kept thinking that some of the chats sounded familiar... but I had to remember that I was 23 or so when I had them. I really had to take myself out of this story to keep my disturbed-factor high (it got easier after a certain point - way beyond what my chatting ever was).
I did enjoy that halfway through the book, the perspective totally changes. For most of it, you get Abby's story. How she meets Luke, her feelings, her worries, her growing love... But then, when she goes missing, you start to get into the heads of the people around her: Her bratty little sister, her almost-ex-best friend, the boy she went on a date with... And it's really interesting to get their take on the things you've just read. I just thought that was really well done.
Y'all... this book is heartwrenching. I mean, there are a few times that I wish I was in the room with Abby as she's chatting to just say "Wait, did you see what he asked there? Doesn't that sound suspicious? Come on, girl!" I got to a spot where I really couldn't put this book down. I just had to find out if she was okay. I also found myself becoming very protective of Abby and her decisions. Especially when she is faced with the people in school every day.
There's a lot of discussion about internet safety courses throughout this book. Abby mentions them when she starts chatting with Luke - about how to spot the bad stuff. And again throughout the story from several different people. I really, really hope these courses exist - and that teens are paying attention to them. It could probably save lives (and not in the hokey way that sounds).
Now to the question... do I recommend this book. Yes - hesitantly. Definitely for high schoolers only. There are some things in this book that really, really shouldn't be read by anyone younger... unless, I guess, it's to teach a lesson. But some of the unfortunate stuff isn't wrapped in a lesson yet... so that makes it really difficult. I think if you're a fan of issue-books, this one is definitely for you. It's well written and I really couldn't put it down (it was a less-than-24-hour book for me). So I recommend it in that way, but be aware of the topic. And be ready for it to rip your heart out. Stomp on it. And gingerly replace it. Leaving you with a story you'll never forget.
UPDATE: I just read a few reviews (some of which are linked below) of some parents who read this book. I absolutely cannot imagine having a child this age and reading this book. It would scare the bejesus out of me. I also agree with many of the reviews that it's hard to get this book out of your head. I wish there were more books that were this honest with real issues. Bravo!
Other Blog Review:
Eve's Fan Garden
Proud Book Nerd
Candace's Book Blog
Dreaming in Books
Girls in the Stacks
Jenny Likes Books
Chick Loves Lit