A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that drinking, casual sex, and drug use are presented as common teen behaviors; in two cases, parents give teens glasses of wine. Girls deal with boys calling them demeaning names and treating them as sex objects. The 16-year-old main character is a straight-A student with a good attitude. The author weaves brand names throughout the story, from soda drinks to cars to types of wine.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Sixteen-year-old Geena plans to spend her summer working at the Triple Shot Betty coffee shack, skateboarding, and hanging out with her best friend Amber and her favorite cousin Hero. The girl bonding doesn't go so well, though, so Geena has plenty to fill her diary: friends who hate one another; a flaky, divorced dad; and Ben, her long-time but very cute academic nemesis and potential crush.
Is it any good?
The book's Sonoma Valley estate setting and casual references to blow jobs and thizzing might lead some to think this is Gossip Girl, California-style. Wrapped in a sometimes raunchy exterior, though, is a sweet core, grounded by its authentic first-person narrator. Even its resident bad-girl, Amber, turns out to have an innocent secret.
Geena is smart, funny, and not afraid to flip off boys who hassle her while she is skateboarding. She avoids "indulging in normal teen activities, like drinking beer, smoking bud, and having sloppy sex in parking lots." She explores the line between feeling sexy on her own terms and feeling exploited by boys. A kiss is still romantic. While the handsome villain -- and his comeuppance -- are a bit over the top, teens will enjoy the grrl power ending.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether there is a double standard for boys' and girls' reputations. How do teens decide which rumors are true? Do teens think "everyone" is drinking, having sex, and smoking pot? Families can also discuss how easy it is to post cell-phone pictures on the Internet. Do you know anyone who has been embarrassed by photos posted of them?