I am a director of education and read contemporary juvenile and young adult literature so that I am aware of what many students are reading.
I was SHOCKED by the contents and characters in Sara Shepard's _Pretty Little Liars_. I found the characters to be plucked straight from TV shows that are aimed at adults and the plot developed as a situational comedy/drama.
I do not think that it is an appropriate book for any youth in high school or younger to read. The author has placed her teen age characters in adult situations. In addition, none of the adults in the book is a good parental model. The adults are immature, self absorbed, and emotionally still adolescents.
The teen aged characters lie, drink, do drugs, steal cars, have sexual encounters with teachers, have sexual encounters with older young adults (one character goes after her college-age sister's boyfriend who is in medical school.) and show no remorse or examination of conscience for their actions. If find such behavior in high school sophomores to be high inappropriate for a book aimed at middle- and high-school students.
On page 88 the author refers to one mother as a MILF. I was not familiar with this acronym. When I learned that it means "Mother I'd Like to F*#%", I couldn't believe that an editor and publisher allowed it to appear in a book for youth.
I am not a prude, but I do believe that books for youth should not further sexualize teen girls and young woman, especially through situations that have them lusting after older men (who are happy to return the lust).
It is a sad reflection of our society that editors and publishers believe that this book is appropriate for youth. But, they are as greedy and driven by market success and money as the characters in the book, no matter the true cost to others and the harm done in the long run.
Equally shocking to me are the parents who allow their children to read these books without first reading, reviewing, or at least reading reviews of them. Parents NEED to parent. Just because a book in labeled and marketed as Young Adult does not mean that the book is appropriate for youth.
It is negligent (if not criminal) that this book is able to be published and marketed as a book for Young Adults.