Smash It!

Book review by
Barbara Saunders, Common Sense Media
Smash It! Book Poster Image
Teen experiments with personal, social risks in bold novel.

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Kids say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The main circle of friends are "theater kids," so several plays, like The Lion King and Shakespeare's Othello, are mentioned.

Positive Messages

Know your boundaries. Being honest strengthens relationships, even when that's uncomfortable.

Positive Role Models

The drama teacher gains the respect of her students because she holds them to high standards, and gets them to focus on their craft despite their personal drama. A single mother acts as a trusted confidant not just for her daughter, but for other teens who are experiencing trouble at home. The issue of sexual consent comes up often, and there are good models for having such discussions with potential partners. The teens are a multicultural group in Florida. 

Violence

A father and son have a physical fight, including throwing objects.

Sex

Losing virginity is the main storyline. An adult love triangle leads to domestic violence. Many of the characters have casual relationships, including one teen who suggests that her girlfriend sleep with the guy she's previously slept with. There is also a lot of talk about sex and masturbation, using candid descriptions and words like "penis," "vagina," and "ass." The issue of consent comes up often and is illustrated through realistic conversations.

Language

Strong language includes, "s--t," "f--k," "ass," "asshole," the "N" word, "nigga," "bitch," and "pissed." There are also racial and ethnic jokes.

Consumerism

Occasional product references, like Snickers, contribute to the scene setting and realism.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An adult drinks a glass of wine in her home.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Smash It! by Francina Simone is a novel about high school student Olivia, who vows to be bold, learn to take a compliment, and, stand out instead of standing back. Her two specific quests are to get and smash a role in the school theater production, a rap version of Shakespeare's Othello, and to lose her virginity. Many of the characters have casual sexual relationships, including one teen who suggests that her girlfriend sleep with the guy she's previously slept with. There's also a lot of talk about sex and masturbation, using candid descriptions and words like "penis," "vagina," and "ass." The issue of sexual consent comes up often and is illustrated through realistic conversations. An adult love triangle leads to domestic violence. A father and son have a physical fight, including throwing objects. Strong language includes, "s--t," "f--k," "ass," "asshole," the "N" word, "nigga," "bitch," and "pissed." There are also racial and ethnic jokes.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byiiamshanice April 20, 2021

What's the story?

When SMASH IT! begins, high school student Olivia is auditioning for a role in the school theater production, a rap version of Othello, obsessing over her childhood best friends Eli (whom she has a crush on) and Dre (who has a crush on her), and contemplating losing her virginity. She gets the part. Her romantic entanglements get increasingly complicated as she deals with jealousy, romantic rivalry, and interpreting all the good and bad advice from friends. 

Is it any good?

This is a relatable read for mature readers only. Author Francina Simone does an excellent job in Smash It! capturing just how intense and dramatic teen life can get. These high school students balance sustaining old relationships as they change, negotiating new ones, and dealing with their hormones. Olivia, the first-person narrator, is funny, smart, and irreverent. The other characters, teens and adults alike, are quirky and believable. The weakness of the book is its focus on sex. The question of whom Olivia will lose her virginity with overwhelms every other topic.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about consent for sex in Smash It! What do you think about how and when different characters approach the discussion?

  • In Smash It! kids belong to different cliques, like "band kids" and "theater kids." What are the groups in your school? Do you belong to any?

  • Have you ever made a list of goals for your school year? How did pursuing those goals affect you, whether you achieved them or not?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love stories of school theater and tales of consent

Themes & Topics

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