What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that #scandal by Sarah Ockler (The Book of Broken Hearts) is all about teen drama, which can be easy to dismiss as trivial. But taken too far, as it is in this book, it can be genuinely hurtful. Lucy's experience of being falsely accused of posting embarrassing pictures, even of herself, is a good starting point for discussions about how your teens use social media. Attitudes about drinking, marijuana, and sex are matter-of-fact, with drinking and sexual activity frequently mentioned, but only a few incidents of kissing and light making out are directly narrated. Profanity and strong language appear on nearly every page, with "s--t, "ass" and variations such as "candy-ass," and "slut," used most often. Consumer products also arefrequently mentioned by name, and teens can be encouraged to think about when the products create a mood or establish a character and when the story seems to be selling something.
What's the story?
At a prom afterparty, Lucy and Cole kiss. Normally that's not too big a deal, except that Cole is Ellie's boyfriend, and Ellie is Lucy's best friend. Compromising photos of Lucy and Cole together, as well as of other teens at the party, are uploaded to Facebook and tagged. As if that weren't bad enough, whoever uploaded the pictures hacked Lucy's account to make it look as if she did the posting. Now she's lost her best friend and become a victim of cyberbullying, and then someone creates a Facebook page called Juicy Lucy to make her seem promiscuous. Even if Lucy can prove she wasn't the one who uploaded the photos, she can't take back the kiss and may have lost Ellie forever.
Is it any good?
The latest from Sarah Ockler has a lot less to offer than her previous novel, The Book of Broken Hearts. There's a lot of appeal here for kids who are big fans and users of social media and will provide them with a lot of important food for thought. Stretching the last month of senior year out over 400 pages makes for a lot of minutia, though, limiting the appeal to highly social teens.
Lucy's voice is believable, and she's easy to root for, but the drama overload and slow unfolding of the mystery ultimately get in the way of making Lucy a truly compelling character. Frequently peppering the story with pop-culture and consumer-product references firmly root it in the here and now, making it a much less universal story than Broken Hearts and assuring an appeal that should last about as long as Fruit Ninja tops the best-selling apps list.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about social media services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Do you use them every day? How do you use them? Do they make it easier or harder for you to have satisfying relationships with the people around you?
Do you know anyone who's been a victim of cyberbullying? Have you ever posted something that could be considered cyberbullying? Why? What happened as a result?
Did what happened to Lucy make you feel differently about how you use social media? What about your own online privacy? Is that something you should be concerned about? How can you protect yourself online?