A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book is a violent, voyeuristic look at teen girls sent to wilderness camp as punishment. The girls are under the care of cruel "counselors," mostly men. There is a murder, a rape scene, and plenty of violence between the girls, as well as emotional and physical abuse at the hands of their "counselors."
What's the story?
Anna Wheeler, daughter of a bestselling Christian novelist and his mousy wife, is sent off to a wilderness camp for troubled girls after her parents decide that they've had enough of her rebellious behavior. Camp Archstone is run by an uncompromising group of counselors who demand obedience and are willing to go to any lengths to get it. The other teens at the camp are vicious, and things go from bad to worse when they find themselves alone in the forest, pursued by an unknown gunman.
Is it any good?
The premise for Bad Girls reads like soft-core pornography. It starts with teenage girls who are imprisoned by male guards -- of course there is an obligatory scene where a girl begins to come on to a guard -- and ends with every single female stereotype. There's the lesbian who teases the male guard by masturbating, the queen bee and her drones, the fat girl, the girl who cries, the brainiac, the mute, the girl who got pregnant by her teacher, and the stern headmistress. There is very little in the way of emotional exploration of the main character's issues leading up to her incarceration. It's page after page of surface stuff, nothing deep here, which adds to the voyeuristic feel. These girls are objects, not characters. There are small glimmers of decent characters, but they are so overshadowed by the stereotypes that they don't even warrant a mention.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the premise here, which the publisher has billed as Mean Girls meets Lord of the Flies. Do you think that's an accurate description? Who do you think the publisher inteded to read this book?
There's a lot of mature material here, including a murder and a girl who gets pregnant after having sex with a teacher. Who should decide when a book is too intense to have in school classrooms or libraries -- or what's appropriate for you to read? Is that a decision that anyone besides you should be able to make?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.