Bad Girls with Perfect Faces

Book review by
Lucinda Dyer, Common Sense Media
Bad Girls with Perfect Faces Book Poster Image
Exceedingly dark cautionary tale of jealousy and murder.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows the dangers and harmful results of creating a false identity online. 

Positive Messages

Rash behavior and terrible choices have a price.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The teens in Bad Girls with Perfect Faces are role models only in a cautionary sense of what not to do and the consequences of terrible moral choices.

Violence

Although not graphically described, a girl is murdered, stuffed in a trunk, and then dumped.

Sex

Characters have sex for all the wrong reasons (e.g., to lure someone back into a relationship); it's never described in any detail. 

Language

Lots and lots of profanity: "f--k," "d--ks," "p---y," goddam," "s--t," "c--t."

Consumerism

Characters play retro video games: Gauntlet, Q*bert, Tetris, and Space Invaders.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

These teen characters don't simply have a beer or a couple of drinks, they finish off bottles, take pills with alcohol, and pass out drunk. The main characters would all be candidates for intervention and a stay in rehab.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten (Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls) is a dark psychological thriller about high schoolers Sasha, her best friend, Xavier, and his cheating ex-girlfriend, Ivy. While Sasha knows what a "good girl" would do when Ivy lures Xavier back into a relationship, she admits that, "Bad girls know there is no right and wrong. There is just what you're willing to do. What you need to do. Here is what I did." What she does is set into play a series of events that will unintentionally lead to a murder and its cover-up. Told from three points of view -- those of Sasha, Xavier, and a third character whose identity is revealed only at the end of the book -- this is a cautionary tale about a right motive gone terribly wrong. While sexual encounters are not graphically described, characters drink often and to excess, and there's lots of profanity ( "f--k," "p---y," "goddam," "c--t."). It's best suited for mature readers and as a vehicle for a discussion with parents about the life-changing price that can be paid for rash behavior and terrible choices.

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What's the story?

In BAD GIRLS WITH PERFECT FACES, Sasha and Xavier are best friends. It's just the two of them until Xavier begins dating Ivy, who Sasha doesn't like and doesn't trust. When Ivy cheats on Xavier and he breaks up with her, Sasha is relieved -- and then crushed when Xavier gives in to Ivy's offer of sex and they begin dating again. Determined to protect her best friend, Sasha creates a false identity (a suitably hot guy named Jake Jones) on Instagram, hoping Ivy will follow him. When she does, Sasha gets a burner phone so that "Jake" and Ivy can begin texting and, Sasha hopes, Ivy will reveal her cheating ways. Sasha doesn't believe "anything that mattered could happen," but something that matters does happen when there's a murder and a body that must be disposed of to keep the likely killer's identity a secret. But just who that killer really is remains a mystery until the very end of the story.

Is it any good?

This morally murky psychological thriller filled with drinking and profanity reveals in stark terms the costs and consequences of reckless behavior and terrible decisions. Readers may find the early chapters filled with Sasha, Xavier, and Ivy's excessive drinking and dysfunctional relationships depressing and slow going -- it may even prompt some to say "Who cares?" and give up. But if they stick with it, the story really picks up once the mystery kicks in and the characters are given more dimension. 

There are no "good guys" in this story. It's a dark morality tale that can open up some profound discussions between teens and parents about right and wrong.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the characters in Bad Girls with Perfect Faces too often lack a moral compass. What effect did their parents have in the disastrous choices they made? How can parents help teens learn to make good decisions about what's right and wrong?

  • Have you known anyone who's pretended to be someone else on social media? Were there consequences to that decision?

  • How long do you think the characters in the novel will be able to keep what they know about the murder a secret? Is it possible for someone to keep a secret like that for a lifetime?

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