A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a mature book, both in terms of its language and plot points. The main character smokes and gets drunk, has sex with men and women she hardly knows, swears, spends money irresponsibly, and lives on junk food. Very also carries around some serious baggage: Her mother died of a drug overdose, and a teacher had sex with her when she was only 12. There is a positive message underneath all this bad behavior: By the end of the book, Very stops trying to escape her problems. She makes a new life plan that involves being responsible and taking care of herself.
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What's the story?
Very's so attached to her iPhone, laptop, and online crush -- not to mention running a social networking site on which she plans parties and flash mobs -- that she's about to get booted out of Columbia. But when she attacks Bryan after he accidentally destroy her laptop, her loved ones pressure her to go to ESCAPE, a rehab facility for technology addicts. There, she meets a wild cast of characters, and starts to unpack some of the drama and trauma of her past.
Is it any good?
Very is a great character. She is a lot like the spirited teen at the center of Cohn's Gingerbread series: she's a mouthy girl who's full of life and honesty, and even though she often makes the wrong decision and hurts those she loves, she's really a good person who's carrying around a lot of pain. The problem here is that readers won't know if this book is supposed to be funny or serious. Does she actually have a technology addiction? Or is the rehab center, with its needlepoint and 12-steps, just a joke? The beginning of the book is so breezy that readers might feel sort of lost when Very starts unpacking her emotional baggage, including her mother's deadly drug overdose, and her first sexual experience at the age of 12.
Talk to your kids about ...
This book is about a girl who's sent to a technology rehab center. Ask your kids: Do you think technology addiction exists? If so, what defines an addict? You may want to check out Common Sense Media's article on Beating a Computer Addiction to get one expert's opinion and advice.
Towards the end, Very realizes she prefers "the virtual world because the real one is hard, and cruel, and scary. And I don't know if I have what it takes to make it on my own." Putting addiction aside, do you think people often use media as an escape for their own problems? Do you ever find yourself doing this?
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