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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know this novel is about college students and features a fair amount of drinking and casual sex, as well as some profanity. However, on a scale with the Gossip Girl series, for example, it ranks lower because neither of the main characters have sex and they both learn to respect themselves.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Two college students -- British Emily and American Tasha -- trade classes and rooms in an exchange program. Tasha is fleeing "Tubgate," a scandal that landed her half-naked on YouTube, while Emily hopes the California sun will help her forget a painful breakup. After a disastrous start for both, they exchange tips for fitting in to their different cultures. But just as Tasha joins a women's health protest and Emily loosens up a bit, reality crashes back in.
Is it any good?
Readers who pick up this book for its California vibe -- and Tasha's titillating misstep -- will get caught up before they realize McDonald did a bait-and-switch on them: This isn't total fluff. While it's no feminist manifesto, Tasha's empowerment seems authentic as she takes control of her own sexuality.
Teens will enjoy the culture clash as Tasha tries to wear Uggs and mini-skirts at Oxford and straight-A Emily learns to surf and inline skate at the beach. It may also get them thinking about respect and desire, and about letting "dumb preconceptions rule" one's life.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Tasha's transformation from Tasha to Natasha. Why did she feel like she was treated with more respect when she dressed in longer skirts? Does she find a balance between her own desire and being judged a "slut"? Is Natasha a feminist? Do readers agree with the author's take on what feminists believe?