Dial L for Loser: A Clique Novel
By Pam Gelman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Tween book is S for superficial, C for catty.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Exclusion, cattiness, back-stabbing by girls in clique. Some parents don't have a clue that their kids are mean-spirited and behaving badly. The presentation lacks any life lessons about maturation or reflecting on your actions.
Positive Role Models
These are not the type of people you want in your life, let alone influencing your children.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Discussion of first experiences with boys (lip-kissing, using tongues, being felt-up and horny). Descriptions of the appeal of a thin body; one girl thinks she's too big and has large "boobs." A boy "grinding [the] backside" of another while dancing.
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Products & Purchases
Constant name-dropping of designer labels, stores, beverages, etc.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Male actor holds unlit cigarette in mouth for look; parents drink alcohol.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this novel is the sixth in a series about wealthy, privileged girls who are obsessed with material items, boys, and themselves. This book continues the degradation of the "new" girl, a middle-class "nerd" desperate to fit in. Most of the dialogue is about purchasing of designer labels, finding ways to "lip-kiss" boys, or scheming to bring another kid down.
Where to Read
Based on 5 parent reviews
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Excellent, well-written read for 6th grade and up
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What's the Story?
Having been expelled from Octavian Country Day School, the Pretty Committee members (Massie, Dylan, Alicia, Kristen, and newcomer Claire) are up to their elbows in shopping, hanging out, and talking about themselves. An opportunity arises to audition in L.A. for a part in a tween film that stars their favorite teen actors.
Surprisingly, Claire -- the least glamorous of the bunch -- beats out Massie and Alicia for the part. She develops movie friendships with two teen stars, aggravating the others even though they land roles reporting on the movie happenings for an early-morning news show.
Tricks, miscommunications, and back-stabbing put Claire right back where she started -- at the bottom of the clique heap -- though there's a hint of potential film career.
Is It Any Good?
There's no doubt that author Lisi Harrison, a writer for MTV, knows the female tween crowd -- what appeals, what's trendy, what's enticing. And clearly with the following of the Clique series, she's touched a nerve with this demographic.
But instead of creating a novel that helps girls see through the shallow world of cliques like the book's Pretty Committee, DIAL L FOR LOSERS perpetuates stereotypes of kids, specifically girls, being malicious, gossipy, jealous, materialistic, and unable to learn from experiences in a way that shows maturation and taking responsibility for yourself. While the "nerdy" (and most sympathetic) character does appear to get a taste of popularity and learn something about herself, the others are as self-involved at the end of the book as they were in the beginning.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the Pretty Committee as an example of cliques. Is the depiction of this group realistic?
Why do you think this series is so successful?
Is it realistic for kids to have such easy access to money and so few limits imposed by parents?
Why does the "nerdy" girl stick with the clique?
What would you do in her shoes? Does anyone you know act like this in real life?
- Author: Lisi Harrison
- Genre: Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
- Publication date: November 13, 2006
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 12
- Number of pages: 268
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Where to Read
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