Pretty Little Liars #1 Book Poster Image

Pretty Little Liars #1



First book in cliquey girls' series shows off bad behavior.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value

Well, it is reading. And perhaps if they like this series, teen readers will check out better girl-centered series, such as Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Positive messages

This is fluffy guilty-pleasure fare, with few surprises among either the character types or the plotting. Gossip Girl fans probably will enjoy this one -- but parents who read along will find plenty to cringe over. If there is a positive message here it is obscured by the sensationalist and materialistic plot.

Positive role models

These girls do all sorts of bad things: shoplift, drink and drive, steal boyfriends, starve (or throw up intentionally), etc.


The plot centers around a missing girl -- and there are references to, but few details about, the "Jenna thing," a prank gone wrong.


Girl-on-girl kissing, plus Aria nearly has sex with her teacher, Spencer hooks up with her sister's boyfriend, and Hanna tries to seduce her boyfriend in the woods.


You'll find all the big bad words -- but not a lot of them.


Tiffany & Co., Kate Spade, BMW, Marlboro, Corona, Cheetos, etc.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink and smoke.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this book features all kinds of bad behavior. One character hooks up with a teacher, another with her sister's boyfriend. There's bulimia, drunk driving, shoplifting, pranking, swearing, smoking -- and the big secret: what happened to their best friend. This is the start of a series and also inspired a popular TV show.

What's the story?

This is basically Desperate Housewives for the teen set. The book centers on former friends, each with her own set of issues -- one crushes on a girl, another struggles with her weight/self-esteem, etc. What they share now is a mystery in their past: One night, during the summer before eighth grade, their leader, Allison, disappeared without a trace. They've drifted apart but come back together when they start receiving strange messages from someone named "A" who seems to know all their secrets, past and present.

Is it any good?


This is pure guilty pleasure that's hugely popular with teens: The average rating among nearly 100 of Common Sense Media's young readers is 5 out of 5 stars.

PRETTY LITTLE LIARS is the launch of yet another series about pretty, privileged girls who do all sorts of naughty things. This book has a mystery at its heart -- a former friend disappeared one night before the start of eighth grade. Ali's disappearance gives readers something to guess about in between the protagonists' student-teacher sex scandals and bouts of bulimia.  

Inspired parents can use this story to get kids thinking about why books about rich, popular female frenemies have struck such a chord with readers. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of this book -- and the crop of clique series that have appeared on bookstore shelves in recent years. Are these books simply an escape, or do they promote dangerous values?

  • Do books like this one affect the way girls treat one another -- or themselves? 

Book details

Author:Sara Shepard
Genre:Coming of Age
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:October 1, 2006
Number of pages:304
Publisher's recommended age(s):14

This review of Pretty Little Liars #1 was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byCSM Screen Name... October 1, 2010

Inappropriate for Anyone Under Age 18

I am a director of education and read contemporary juvenile and young adult literature so that I am aware of what many students are reading. I was SHOCKED by the contents and characters in Sara Shepard's _Pretty Little Liars_. I found the characters to be plucked straight from TV shows that are aimed at adults and the plot developed as a situational comedy/drama. I do not think that it is an appropriate book for any youth in high school or younger to read. The author has placed her teen age characters in adult situations. In addition, none of the adults in the book is a good parental model. The adults are immature, self absorbed, and emotionally still adolescents. The teen aged characters lie, drink, do drugs, steal cars, have sexual encounters with teachers, have sexual encounters with older young adults (one character goes after her college-age sister's boyfriend who is in medical school.) and show no remorse or examination of conscience for their actions. If find such behavior in high school sophomores to be high inappropriate for a book aimed at middle- and high-school students. On page 88 the author refers to one mother as a MILF. I was not familiar with this acronym. When I learned that it means "Mother I'd Like to F*#%", I couldn't believe that an editor and publisher allowed it to appear in a book for youth. I am not a prude, but I do believe that books for youth should not further sexualize teen girls and young woman, especially through situations that have them lusting after older men (who are happy to return the lust). It is a sad reflection of our society that editors and publishers believe that this book is appropriate for youth. But, they are as greedy and driven by market success and money as the characters in the book, no matter the true cost to others and the harm done in the long run. Equally shocking to me are the parents who allow their children to read these books without first reading, reviewing, or at least reading reviews of them. Parents NEED to parent. Just because a book in labeled and marketed as Young Adult does not mean that the book is appropriate for youth. It is negligent (if not criminal) that this book is able to be published and marketed as a book for Young Adults.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written byCommonSenseParent November 25, 2010

Excellent, well-written read for 6th grade and up

Pretty Little Liars is a well-written guilty pleasure novel that is an enjoyable and entertaining read for 6th grade and up. Kids will enjoy the fun details of the wealthy and privileged. Your children should be smart enough to realize that this is guilty pleasure fiction and should not be taken seriously. A+
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 3, 6, 10, 13, 15, and 17 year old Written bykatielott15 February 28, 2011

e.g. For anyone who can read

I think that the message this book sends out to readers is that, it is never good to lie. This book is a perfect example of bad things that could happen if you dont follow the rules.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models


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