Those Girls

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
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Not much to like about these shallow, mean girls.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The girls sneak out of school, drink -- and are pretty heartless, even when one of them accidentally injures a teacher. Also, the book features lots of stereotypes, like an overprotective Muslim father.


The book opens with Jinx hearing her neighbor having sex. There is some other sex talk, like a reference to a student with syphilis, but the most graphic encounter is a rendezvous between two of the women on the faculty.


Lots of bad words, with an especially heavy use of the f-word and its variations.


Some high-end brand name dropping (Stella McCartney, Dior, Miss Sixty), plus Diet Coke, MTV, Coco Pops, etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The characters drink (even with parents), smoke pot, and take ecstasy.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the characters in this book swear like crazy, sneak off of school grounds, wear designer clothes, drink, smoke marijuana, and take Ecstasy -- and generally don't seem to care too much about anyone. The book opens with Jinx hearing her neighbor having sex, and there is some other sex talk, but the most graphic encounter is a rendezvous between two of the women on the faculty. The book features lots of stereotypes, including offensive representations of Asians, Muslims, and lesbians.

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What's the story?

When mysterious -- and snotty -- Stella Fox transfers into Jinx's exclusive English boarding school, most of the girls immediately dislike her. But when she starts to steal Jinx's best friend, Jinx commits to discovering her secret. Making matters worse, evil housemistress Ms. Gunn is out to get Jinx and her friends -- torturing them with liquor raids and early-morning roll call (shouted over a megaphone). Even fun-loving Jinx has to wonder: Will life in the sixth form ever be good again?

Is it any good?

Readers may get a kick out of some of the over-the-top characters at Jinx's exclusive boarding school. There's Ms. Gunn, the faculty's angry drunk, who invents terrible punishments for the girls but always ends up as the butt of their jokes. There are also some tender moments between Jinx and her best friend Liberty, and nice images of Jinx's weekend home life with her wacky -- but loving -- family.

But in the end, readers will be troubled by the book's stereotypical characters, such as Liberty's overprotective Saudi Arabian father, who kidnapped her from her mother as a child and now makes references to "common prostitutes" when he catches her doing something he doesn't like. Also, the girls seem too wrapped up in their shallow lives and small dramas to care about anything real (when a teacher is injured in class, for example, the girls laugh and stand around instead of getting her help). This is yet another clique lit book series, so there will be plenty more to learn about those girls at Stagmount. But most teen readers -- even those that like a guilty-pleasure series -- should opt for something else.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of books like this one that feature lots of swearing, drinking, and bad behavior. Do these books simply reflect current teen culture -- or do they encourage kids to act out? Should parents care about (and monitor) what's in their kids' books, or just be happy that they are reading?

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