Surviving High School

Book review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
Surviving High School Book Poster Image
Vine star's superficial novel has mixed messages for teens.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Meant to entertain, but teens will understand how social media can negatively affect their self-esteem if there isn't a balance.

Positive Messages

Celebrate your individuality. Find a healthy balance with media and technology. Don't let fame go to your head. Be a good friend and role model.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lele encourages her followers to embrace their unique qualities. Her parents are loving, protective, and supportive. Darcy and Alexei are loyal friends despite Lele's selfish behavior.

Violence

Lele gets a black eye during tackle football, and bullies call her names at her school. Lele and Alexei flirt by playfully punching each other, but she often imagines violent scenarios -- such as beating up her enemies or her boyfriend for possibly cheating on her -- for comedic effect.

Sex

Teens flirt and kiss plus talk about hooking up and losing their virginity. Lele often fantasizes about Alexei.

Language

Variations of "f--k" and "s--t" plus "bitch," "ass," "freak," "see you next Tuesday" (shorthand for "c--t"), "Jesus Christ," "hell," and "loser."

Consumerism

Lele is a famous Vine star and constantly references her videos. Brands include Disney, Nickelodeon, Pokémon, Converse, Starbucks, iPhone. Social media references include Vine, Snapchat, and Instagram. Celebrities mentioned include Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, and more. Popular TV shows and movies mentioned include Game of Thrones, American Horror Story, High School Musical, Mean Girls, Heathers, and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens drink alcohol at parties and at clubs, play beer pong, and smoke pot, plus there are references to cocaine and Molly.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the famous Vine celebrity Lele Pons wrote Surviving High School with best-selling author Melissa de la Cruz. Inspired by her life and successful Vines, the Lele Pons character in the story tries to balance the challenges of high school with her rising Internet fame. Teens smoke, drink, talk about hooking up and losing their virginity, and use strong language including "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "see you next Tuesday" (a secret way of saying "c--t"), and more. There's hardly any violence except for Lele's daydreams where she imagines beating up her enemies or her boyfriend for possibly cheating on her. The story may be predictable and references tons of brands, but teens will see the importance of celebrating their individuality and finding a healthy balance with media and technology.

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What's the story?

Inspired by her real-life experiences and popular Vines, Lele Pons wonders if SURVIVING HIGH SCHOOL could ever be as easy as creating a clever video. As she goes from bullied loner to the most popular girl in school, Lele must learn how to balance the drama of mean girls and cute boys with her rising celebrity status. Can she make it through her junior year of high school without getting carried away by the perks of Internet fame?

Is it any good?

Vine star Lele Pons relies on her self-deprecating humor, annoying acronyms and hashtags, and an abundance of pop culture references to tell a superficial high school story. While she celebrates her individuality and encourages others to do the same, her obsession with her appearance negates the positive body-image messages she may be trying to impart to her readers.

Although the Lele in the book is fictional, her #DoItForTheVine mentality comes across as selfish and arrogant especially when she neglects her friends and schoolwork and provides insincere apologies and excuses for her behavior. While there aren't many useful tips for surviving high school, Lele's rise in popularity -- both online and offline -- and self-esteem issues show teens how important it is to find a healthy balance with media and technology.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how bullyingsocial media, and body image are represented in Surviving High School. What effect do they have on Lele and her friends' self-esteem and self-identity?

  • Lele Pons already has millions of followers on social media. Why publish a book, too? Are there other Vine celebs that you think should get a chance at a book? Or would they do better to stick with the platform that made them famous?

  • Is your teen social media-obsessed? Find out how to manage media use and ease social media anxiety.

  • If you're unfamiliar with Lele's lingo, Common Sense Education's Digital Glossary can help you decode the hashtags and digital slang.

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