A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

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Judy Blume’s Forever has long been the pinnacle of teenage fiction. Various people have tried to match it but few have come anywhere close. However, recently there have been a couple of books that play on its success. First there was Good Girls which was dubbed A Forever for the 21st century and now there's this book which attacks things in a different way and simply refers to Blume's bible at various points throughout the text. Both of these are books I wish had been around in my high school years. Both are books every girl in high school needs to read.

Josie, Nicolette and Aviva are three teens at the same high school in Anywhere USA (though not explicitly stated, I’ve assumed this since the weather seems to be good, one of them pops off to Connecticut for the weekend and they all have cars at a ridiculously young age). The book, which itself is not all that long, seems even shorter because it has 3 self-contained yet inter-related stories within it. Each of these reasonably good girls gets to tell about her adventure with the same rather bad boy. However, instead of annoyingly switching from girl to girl in each chapter, these stories are told from start to finish, and the voice only changes three times as each girl finishes their story and passes the baton to the next.

So how does Forever fit in? Well as the first one scorned, Josie is mad at herself for falling for Bad Boy as much as she did. She wants to warn off any other girls whom he might try to lure in, and decides on a novel way to do this: she gets the school library copy of Forever (assuming quite correctly that it will be one of the most read titles in there) and annotates the blank pages - that appear at the back of so many books - with her warning about Bad Boy. She then spreads the word throughout the female student body and watches her plan come into action. With her comments (and those of others), girls can learn what he's up to. This way they can be Forewarned. Forearmed. Forever.

Unfortunately, Nicolette and Aviva don't read the book in time, and are soon sucked into Bad Boy's world. The way they each react is both somewhat similar and somewhat different depending on their characters, but the outcome is unfortunately pretty much the same for all three. This doesn't make it as repetitive a read as you might think though, and I got so engrossed that I flew through it in a matter of hours. This is helped by the layout and style of the writing as it's laid out like poetry and words that should take up half a line suddenly spread out to fill three:

He grins.
I think
I’m in trouble.

And later:

Nicolette looks at me
and says

The result is a text which is short and to the point, really focusing your mind on what the words mean, and making you pause at the important bits. There is no abundance of adjectives describing the weather or anything else for that matter in this book. Time passes without a second glance. All you need to know, and all you get, is what the girls are thinking during their respective time with Bad Boy. It's unusual and a bit kooky, but it's also a fab read. While the girls were groaning at how good Bad Boy made them feel, I was groaning at how good this book was. Seriously, it's one of my favourite reads of the last twelve months.

One thing remains muddled in my mind. Quite how this Bad Boy proved to be good for the girls is still unclear for me, except for the fact he made them a little wiser and a little more cautious, even if it was a bit late for some of them. Another title might have made a bit more sense from my view point, but apart from this I can't fault the book in any way, and it's another one that comes with an enthusiastic "must read" recommendation.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Booklists.jpg A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone is in the Top Ten Teen Chick Lit Books.

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Buy A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone at Amazon.com.


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