Good Girls by Laura Ruby

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Good Girls by Laura Ruby

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: One moment of indiscretion threatens to ruin Audrey's final year of school, but as she struggles through, she realises that life does go on and that she can survive the unthinkable. A rare, breathtaking book about the inner turmoil of girls teetering on the edge of adulthood, unsure whether to jump before they're pushed.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: May 2007
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0007242047

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Good Girls is being dubbed "A Forever for the 21st Century". As someone who loved the Judy Blume classic enough to buy copies in two languages, I found this a tempting claim, and hoped this new book would indeed live up to my newly hyped expectations.

It did.

And then some.

Audrey is a good girl. A nice, well brought up, beautifully mannered girl. A star student who enjoys learning, she is a dream daughter for her parents, and in their eyes this high school senior can do no wrong. Until now. Audrey attends a class mate's party and is photographed doing something good girls like her just don't do. Within hours, the incriminating photo has been circulated to virtually everyone in her school, her family and her community. Over night, her perfect world splinters as she goes from class swot to class slut in the blink of an eye. As the raging double standards come into play (Just why is it that, as the girl, she is now a whore, whereas the guy in question is now a hero?) Audrey has to come to terms with a whole town's reaction to what should have been a private moment. Life, however, must go on, and as much as she would like to bunk off school for the rest of time, the straight-A student in her forces her back into the classroom, back to face the music. As the school year progresses, Audrey learns a lot about who her friends are, the power of gossip and why it's always a good idea to lock the door before you take off your pants, or someone else's.

From the moment I picked up this book, I was hooked in a way I haven't been for some time. One of the blurbs on this book says it's essential reading for teenage girls, and for women who remember what it was like to be young and talked about. I fall into the latter category, but I still wonder whether, hindsight being the thing that it is, I can't appreciate this book more than those who read it at the same as Audrey is in the book (16-going-on-17). Either way, Audrey is a very likeable character. This girl's not some wimpy, pathetic little thing, nor is she absorbed in a superficial world of all things pink and glittery. She's spunky and spirited, a devoted friend, and a rather nice, well-rounded individual to boot. Even at her lowest moments, she doesn't cry out for you to pity her but instead demands and deserves respect for the courage she shows.

The similarities to Forever and also to shows such as Dawson's Creek are huge, not so much in the story, but in the way, the difficult issues are addressed. Both books struck a cord when I read them, the first as a young teen, this new one as a young 20-something. They seem very personal books, and I wonder how much of the story in each is lifted directly from the authors' personal experiences. They say you should write what you know, but so many people seem not to do this, or to have conveniently forgotten how things really happened, and now look back on those events through a Hollywood lens or rose-tinted glasses.

Not Good Girls however.

This book struck me as being so true to life:

The trip to the gynaecologists is excruciatingly embarrassing, as are the sex lectures her parents start to inflict upon her. The description of a speculum, for example, as " a duck-billed salad server" made me cackle, and groan in recognition.

The Slut City World Tour is hilarious, brilliant and so conceivable (I might try it myself next time I'm at B&Q).

The politics of the high school cliques are real and honest, as are the girls' friendships. For every player like Luke, or slimeball like Chilly, there is a misunderstood girl like Pam, and a drama queen like Joelle, and everyone must know an Audrey if they weren't one themselves.

I liked the acknowledgement of the fact that this point in life is one of the busiest ever - when you're applying to colleges, trying to graduate from school, holding onto first jobs and first loves, dealing with first heartbreaks and first betrayals - and how the last thing you need right now is another major crisis.

The sex, when it comes (and for all it's the main theme of the book, there's not a large amount) is done well. It is not graphic. It is not soft-porn à la Nip/Tuck. And, it's not fake and pretty, full of lovely blossoming flowers and warm fuzzy feelings inside. It's messy and icky and a little bit gross, but intriguing for the characters at the same time. In other words, it's real.

This book had me laughing, nodding in recognition and, towards the end, crying a little. It is beautifully written, in a light tone that flows incessantly and had me finish the whole thing in less than 24 hours. And, I think it can speak to readers in a way no GCSE Biology sex-ed class ever could. Schools could do a lot worse than stocking this title in their libraries, or putting it on the essential reading list for a year 11 English class.

Good Girls isn't's great.

Though with a heroine of the same age, Planet Janet has a take on the teenage years that some younger readers might enjoy or identify with more, and also comes highly recommended by The Bookbag.

Thank you to the publishers for sending us this amazing book.

Booklists.jpg Good Girls by Laura Ruby is in the Top Ten Teen Chick Lit Books.

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Magda said:

I find it terryfying that with all progress, contraception, liberating etc. the sheer concept of goodgirlness (which I thought stemmed from Catholic backwardness of my Polish youth) lives on seemingly unharmed.

Kerry said:

What a wonderful review for a book I would likely not pick up until I had read this.

sweet_2_sour_canadiangurl said:

this is a very good book. it seems so real to me because i have friends who are into the whole party, sex and all that. but im not. i barly even drink. but it had me laughing my butt off almost non stop. this was a very good book. i hope there are more to comr