A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that P.S. I Like You, by Kasie West (author of The Distance Between Us, The Fill-In Boyfriend) is a sweet, funny contemporary high school romance. Lily Abbott is a self-proclaimed "quirky," "awkward," and "weird" girl. Just when she decides it's impossible to find a guy who likes her the way she is, she picks up an anonymous pen pal in chemistry class -- a guy who shares her taste in music and gets her sense of humor. The letters quickly become the best part of her week. The book's messages stress the value of being yourself, putting your friends and family before boys, and working on your craft to gain confidence. Teens commit minor transgressions, such as writing on school property, trespassing, and almost saying swear words. There's mild bullying when a popular boy gives a girl an unwanted nickname and another girl steals her notebook and reads it out loud.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
In P.S. I LIKE YOU, junior Lily Abbott refuses her best friend Isabel's efforts to set her up with a guy. "I'm awkward and weird and it's not fun at all for me or the poor soul who agrees to go out with me," Lily tells Isabel. Still, she's been secretly pining for a senior named Lucas. When her chemistry teacher won't let her doodle in the notebook where she jots down ideas for writing songs -- her passion -- she writes the lyrics to her favorite song on the desk. Someone continues the lyrics to the obscure song, and soon they're writing full-on letters to each other. Lily falls for this person who shares her taste in music, "balances" her, and gets her sense of humor, but she's afraid she could never be the cool, confident girl she appears to be on the page. Meanwhile, she finds an ad for a songwriting contest, the winner earning a scholarship to a prestigious music school. Will she muster the courage and confidence to enter -- and finally finish a song? And what will she do now that Isabel's ex has taken an interest in her?
Is it any good?
Parents and teens will like the message in this refreshing book of being true to yourself, even when you don't fit in. Lily is a non-mainstream teen who's not mopey or self-destructive. She has a loving family, and she puts her family, friends, and songwriting passion before guys. And even though her self-esteem wavers, she knows deep down that a guy she can't be herself around isn't the right guy for her.
The resolution to the letter-writing mystery isn't a surprise, but it's not meant to be. The main thing is that Lily gains confidence and learns not to jump to conclusions about people -- and treat them harshly as a result. It's a fine message for teens and everyone.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how self-esteem is explored in P.S. I Like You. Have there been times you wanted to change to fit in? Have you ever wanted to change for a boyfriend or girlfriend? Have you ever been bullied or bullied someone else?
Is it a good idea to change for a romantic partner? What kinds of qualities are worth changing for someone else? What kinds of qualities are not worth changing for someone else?
Does putting a boyfriend or girlfriend first, before your friends, family, and interests, make you feel good about yourself? Does it make that person like you more?
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