Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The List by Siobhan Vivian

Book Jacket

It happens every year before Homecoming--the list is posted all over school.  Two girls are picked from each grade.  One is named the prettiest, one the ugliest.  The girls who aren't picked are quickly forgotten.  The girls who are become the center of attention.  Each one has a different reaction to the experience.

Abby's joy at being named prettiest is clouded by her sister's resentment.

Danielle worries about how her boyfriend will take the news.

Lauren is a homeschooled girl blindsided by her instant popularity.

Candace isn't ugly, not even close, so it must be a mistake.

Bridget knows her summer transformation isn't something to celebrate.

Sarah has always rebelled against traditional standards of beauty, and she decides to take her mutiny to the next level.

And Margo and Jennifer, ex-best friends who haven't spoken in years, are forced to confront why their relationship ended.

With The List, Siobhan Vivian deftly takes you into the lives of eight very different girls struggling with the issues of identity, self-esteem, and the judgments of their peers.  Prettiest or ugliest, once you're on the list, you'll never be the same.


This is the sort of book every girl, of every age, should read.  Scratch that, everybody should it.  While I am so glad to have high school (and the heightened level of pre-judgment that existed there) behind me, the insecurities and beauty myths surrounding American females affects all of us, no matter how old and wise we become. 

I completely enjoyed Vivian's story.  I worried that it would be hard to keep up with eight different narrators, but the author manages to establish each character very quickly, giving them each distinct voices and experiences.  Although each girl reacts to the list differently, every one of them seemed completely authentic.  I could empathize with each, which is pretty impressive, since some of them are simply awful.

I appreciated that Vivian never let cliches run the story.  There are no overwhelmingly happy endings.  There are small personal victories for some of the girls.  There are some defeats for others.  Some of the girls I started off hating became my favorite by the end, and some that I began liking ended up disappointing me.  It was especially interesting to me to see how being on the "pretty" side of the list affected the four girls.  Although they were given instant popularity, it by no means made their lives easier or better.

The story runs extremely quickly, the characters are relatable, and I'm guessing the plot will have some sort of resonance with every reader.  I loved it.

Five out of five Homecoming Queen ballots.

Release Date: April 2012
Reading Level: Grade 7+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: YPL VIV

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