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 National Book Award finalist is about a girl-on-girl fight that's so severe that one girl ends up in a coma. Careful readers will understand that this book not only examines how much more "personal" girl violence is -- but more importantly, it also reveals the importance of getting involved before events get out of hand. The most chilling character is the one who knows about the planned attack but does nothing -- and doesn't really seem to care after an innocent girl is left in a coma. There is some frank language and one girl admits, "I was mad and had to do something and mad sex is some good s--t, yo."
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What's the story?
This book is told from the perspective of three urban teens: Artistic, annoying Trina, self-absorbed, self-described "Big Girl" Leticia, and angry basketball-obsessed Dominque. During the course of one day, Trina inadvertently disrespects Dominique, who tells her friends she will beat her up at the end of the school day. Leticia overhears this plan, but decides not to warn Trina about what's coming. And then the attack happens.
Is it any good?
Overall, this is a very authentic book that captures the menacing atmosphere of so many high schools. The book's message is subtle here, and some readers may need a parent or teacher's help to get it: At the end, Dominique remains unremorseful about putting Trina in a coma -- but really it's Leticia, who knew of the planned attack and did nothing, that is really at the heart of this book. Her lack of action -- and lack of real caring even in the aftermath -- provide the book's most chilling moments.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the high school depiction here. Students have to walk by a police officer to go to school and a teacher is so afraid when confronted by a student that he starts stuttering. How does the school compare to yours? Does this one seem realistic?
This book is a National Book Award finalist. Why do you think it was honored this way? Does it deserve an award?