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Screen Queens

Book review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
Screen Queens Book Poster Image
Teen girls overcome sexism in must-read Silicon Valley tale.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Each chapter starts by defining a term related to Silicon Valley and tech startups. Teens will learn about pioneering women in STEM fields such as Ada Lovelace, Hedy Lamarr, Grace Hopper, Dorothy Vaughan, and Joan Clarke. The author includes stats about the lack of women, especially women of color, in the story as well as resources at the end of the book that talk about the sexism women face in the tech industry.

Positive Messages

Girl power, friendship, teamwork, perseverance, and courage are important themes. STEM careers are for everyone, not just boys. Fight for what you believe in and stand up for yourself. Setbacks can be turned into opportunities.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lucy, Maddie, and Delia are smart, ambitious, talented girls who are great examples of teamwork, courage, communication, and perseverance. Lucy's mom, Abigail, forged a path for women in tech and is one of the few women to hold the CIO position at a Fortune 500 company. Nishi is a supportive mentor who encourages the girls to work together to become the first all-female team to win ValleyStart.

Violence

Two female characters are sexually harassed and assaulted by a male mentor.

Sex

Characters flirt and kiss. The book deals a lot with the boys' club mentality of Silicon Valley and the sexism women face in the tech industry. During a Women in Tech panel, multiple female executives recall their experiences with sexual harassment and assault.

Language

Strong language includes uses of "freaking," "dammit," "ass," "crap," "s--t," "f--k," "hell," and "loser."

Consumerism

Pulse is a fictional app in the book that determines your social ranking. Characters want their Pulse ranking to increase in the hopes that it will help them win ValleyStart. Brands referenced include The Shining, Teen Vogue, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A handful of scenes include underage drinking and references to wine coolers, beer, mojitos, margaritas, rum, champagne, and weed.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Lori Goldstein’s Screen Queens is about three girls -- Lucy Katz, Maddie Li, and Delia Meyer -- who are competing to become the first all-female team to win the prestigious ValleyStart tech incubator competition. Girl power, friendship, teamwork, courage, and perseverance are important themes in their story. Readers will also learn about Silicon Valley tech startups, pioneering women in STEM fields, and the sexism that women face in the tech industry. Two female characters are sexually harassed and assaulted by a male mentor. Strong language includes "s--t," "f--k," "hell," "freaking," "dammit," "ass," "crap." A handful of scenes include underage drinking and references to weed.

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What's the story?

Meet the SCREEN QUEENS: Lucy Katz, an aspiring CEO from Palo Alto; Maddie Li, a graphic designer from Boston; and Delia Meyer, a self-taught coder from a small Midwestern town. These strong, smart girls enter the prestigious ValleyStart incubator competition for different reasons but share a common goal: Do whatever it takes to win. Although their personalities clash at the beginning of this intense, five-week summer program, the girls must learn how to work together if they want to become the first all-female team ever to win. Will they be able to handle the pressure and deal with the sexism in the tech industry?

Is it any good?

Lori Goldstein's inspiring coming-of-age tale about girls overcoming sexism and bullying in Silicon Valley is a must-read for teens. Each chapter begins by defining a term related to startups and provides a great introduction to the tech industry. Goldstein also includes stats about the lack of women, especially women of color, in STEM fields as well as examples of sexism in the workplace, making readers root even more for Lucy, Maddie, and Delia to succeed. Although their personalities clash at the beginning, teens will love the strong, supportive friendships that these smart, ambitious, and talented girls form over the course of the competition. As Lucy, Maddie, and Delia face the challenges of working in a male-dominated industry and develop an app meant to empower and encourage girls to pursue STEM careers, readers will see that Screen Queens is a story of teamwork, perseverance, and courage.

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