Fattie Book Review: Some Girls Are

Book: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Rating: ♦♦♦◊◊

Synopsis Snippet: Regina WAS someone.  Now she has fallen from the graces of the popular but bitchy and feared Fearsome Fivesome clique in highschool and must figure out how to deal with her sudden fall and the fury of her former friends.

The Cast: A highschool group of white (and incredibly bitchy) cis-gendered, hetero girls and boys.

Romance Aspects: Love and lust are main topics here; mostly as it pertains to the having and losing of boyfriends.

Language: There is a copious amount of swearing of the upperclassman high-school variety. The flow of dialogue is very natural and though what is being said is, for the most part, a reflection of some of the darker bits of humanity, it is done in a very smooth and compelling way.

Fat treatment: One of the Fearsome Fivesome (now Foursome) was a “fat” girl who was basically harassed into taking dangerous pills and methods to become even slightly acceptable to this hateful crowd. It isn’t a kind or accepting group of people so don’t expect any acceptance or love for anyone who doesn’t fit the narrow standard or “likability” here.

Review: This book brought me back to a very hateful world of incredibly vain, bitchy and horrible high school girls (and boys) with few to no redeeming features to recommend them.  Regina started as the best friend of Anna, the queen bitch-bee at Hallowell High.  Quickly we watch as she falls from the ranks of the powerful and tries to scrape along at her newfound place at the bottom of the school’s hierarchy.  Only she has to do it with not only the hatred and hateful actions of her former friends pushing on her but with the hatred of an entire school body that has lived in fear of her previous actions.  There seems to be no one who isn’t positively gleeful at her fall from grace.

This is a very quick read and though the material could easily be hurtful to anyone who takes the characters and their actions to heart (it certainly brought reminders of my own poor treatment in school back to mind; though anything I ever experienced was far less horrible than what occurs in this book); the voices read as very real, very mean and certainly kept me reading.

Great Quotes: Some awesome tidbits that might get your curiosity going.

“There’s no such thing as justice”

“Yes, I’m afraid to be alone”

“Teachers never go out of their way to notice anything”

“In high school, you don’t get to change. You only get to walk variations of the same lines everyone has already drawn for you.”

“I have never hated anyone so much in my life. I never will again.”

Final Verdict: This is a fast read but certainly not a text filled with lovable characters that you’ll be heartened to read.  It is gritty, nasty, mean and makes me SO very glad to have put those anxious days of highschool far behind me. 

So, have you read this yet?  Would you now want to? Would you suggest it to someone else?

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7 thoughts on “Fattie Book Review: Some Girls Are

  1. Hmmm. I loves me some angsty YA, but this does not feel like something I’d racing to read anytime soon.
    Yeah, I know, reading about bitchy normative moneyed white teen girls is not really at the top of my list.

    But I’m really curious who you think the target audience is for this one? Is it a cautionary tale for the above? A gleeful look at those who have fallen for the great unwashed? I just don’t get who is supposed to LIKE this.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the queen bee thing. My best friend has certainly not raised her daughter to be one, yet she is in grave danger of heading that direction at age 12. I always wondered if my god-daughter’s natural competitiveness might get channeled in this way, and my friend thought having an “old weird mom who doesn’t wear make up and makes rusty stuff out of garbage” would be an automatic disqualifier in her case. Apparently not so.

    It’s interesting to me how much is out there now for adults who want to help kids who are being bullied ( Yay team!) but how little is there for parents who want to stop this in their own kids. Now that I am looking, I’ve only found two good books, and a lot of ‘self-esteem’ stuff that squicks me out on the FA angle.

    I’ve talked to my niece about being bullied myself and about how it will come back to hurt her down the line. My friend is taking her out of the school connected to their church ( yes-they refused to deal with it!) and putting her in public school in their poor rural rust belt town.

    I can’t help but wonder what my niece would do with a book like this. Whatever it would be, I can’t think of it as pretty. So who the heck is it FOR?

    • Chutti I was asking this same question of the folks in my YA Lit class since this book really just made me feel that there are some evil people in the world. But some pointed out that not all reads are Happy Fluffy. Sometimes you’re looking for that dark voyage into the unknown; for a tale about the twisted paths some people take and the really gritty and nasty. This would certainly qualify for the later. So I’d say this book would be for those times you really just want to read with some voyeurism in mind: how COULD seniors in highschool be so cruel to each other? What might be some potential reasons and the subsequent downfalls? Admittedly I didn’t find it appealing myself since my mood right now is not geared for such a read but in this context it would certainly hit the spot for a potential reader.

      As to how reading is done in general I don’t think people really read many of the fiction or “pleasure” reading books as “how to” guides. I certainly didn’t read all of my books growing up with a hope that they would always be able to help me along and teach me how to act. And the times when I DID get some glimpses from books I was able to differentiate between “acceptable” and “likely unacceptable or disastrous” behaviors. The last being a key skill I think we forget teens possess as readers going into any text.

      As to bullying I have a few resources that came up during class recently. Some websites, books and even fiction that is relevant:

      Teens Against Bullying – Pacer Center This highly interactive website offers young users concrete information about what bullying is on- and offline, how they can prevent it, and what to do if they’re experiencing it. Teen celeb Demi Lovato is a spokesperson for this website, and featured in several of its embedded video segments on dealing with bullies.

      Bullies2Buddies offers a different approach to bullying. While most of this site is geared to adults, this link outlines Kalman’s approach, which is about learning how not to be a victim. As per a follow-up comment from Meerkat this site has much victim blaming going on so the advice it offers may be of limited use.

      Albatross by Jossie Bloss (Feb 2010): This book deals with a young woman’s struggle to “find her voice” and speak up to an abusive boyfriend who is reminiscent of her abusive father. As this book deals with the idea of bullying within teen romantic relationships I thought it would be a good fit with this topic thread.

      A Thin Line: A campaign started by MTV, A Thin Line addresses the dangers of digital abuse, including: sexting, cyberbullying, and harassment via virtual means. This site includes interviews from popular tv show stars, like Jessica Stroup from “90210,” or Vinny from “Jersey Shore,” and their take and advice on pertinent issues. Teens also have a place where they can share their own stories and how and where to seek help.

      Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers (this book!): This novel (published in 2010) takes the reader inside the mind of Regina Afton, a consummate Mean Girl who suddenly finds herself no longer a member of the club. This novel depicts bullying at its worst – Regina and her “friends” tortured kids simply for the sake of it. And Regina’s downfall allows her to begin to understand the damage they had done to others.

      Think Before You Speak is a website created to prevent bullying of LGBT teens, mostly by making teens and others aware of how hurtful verbal phrases like “That’s so gay” can be. The site includes a counter of how many times the words “fag”, “dyke”, and “…so gay” have appeared on Twitter that day, downloads of promotional materials for web or print, and a pledge to remove such language from your conversations, and a place to post stories and thoughts. The site is a bit anemic but has a very important message. The “Tell Us Your Story” section would appeal most to LGBT teens or questioning teens looking for support, and the downloads could be used on a school or library website to help spread the message.

      Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change: This text, published in 2009, explores the girl vs. girl phenomenon and challenges teens to break the cycle after attempting to explain how the cycle is created. With glowing reviews from School Library Journal and Booklist, this text contains advice, straightforward language and ways to deal with being bullied.

      Hate List by Jennifer Brown: In the aftermath of a tragic school shooting a senior is left with a bullet wound and the reality that her boyfriend was the shooter. Together they had complied a “hate list” to vent their frustration of being bullied at school buy unknowingly that list became a something else than just for venting, it became a list of victims. This is a powerful story that reveals the torment that some teens live with everyday and the tragic results when everyone looks away.

      Teen Angels is a program for teens under wiredsafety.org that consists of volunteers between the ages of 13 and 18. Teens serve to educate peers, teachers, and parents about cyber-safety and cyber-bullying. Chapters for the program are set up in high schools or via community groups around the country. This program is unique in a sense that teen input is valued in support of initiatives that deter cyberbullying.

      Hope those help out!!

      • Way tangential, (and all the other info you have collected seems really helpful) but I clicked through the Bullies2Buddies link and omg victim blame much? I have only read a couple pages, but this one: http://www.bullies2buddies.com/Parents Ha ha ha, like the school gives a crap! If my schools ever gave a crap, they were all ninja about it so that no one could ever possibly find out. And parents should just shut up because they are such hypocrites they can’t even stop their children from bullying each other. It is all your child’s fault for being a loser! (As in the video, if you are upset that your friends dump you, well, you are a loser, of course they dumped you. The correct response is… to tell them how much better they are than you? What? Imagine if this conversation were about being fat rather than being “not cool.” We don’t want to hang out with you because you are fat. Oh yes, I know, I am not thin and pretty like you guys, so you definitely don’t need to hang out with me.) D: Won’t someone please think of the children on the bottom of the social ladder? Somehow a decade of daily verbal abuse did not make me tough and well-adjusted like this website seems to think it should, since after all, physical violence was extremely rare and the only thing that ever got bullies punished. And this “instructions for bullied children” page is just one big lecture on “ignore them and they’ll go away.” The victim-blaming is so thick I can cut it with a knife. “YOU are MAKING them tease you.” I guess it’s okay though because he says not to feel bad about it, you are just ignorant (as if you haven’t heard “just ignore them” 500 times already) in lesson 2. And in Lesson 3 we learn that the goal is not the goal that has been promised umpteen times but to just get you to “stop caring” about whatever abuse people fling at you, because that is a great solution. People who are being abused should just stop caring whether they are abused or not! Well, you *can* solve pretty much any problem simply by stopping caring whether it ever gets solved. And in Lesson 5 we learn that it’s not okay for people to hurt you unless they don’t hurt you very much, you crybaby. And it goes on.

        • meerkat: Wow thanks for the heads up! I’ll admit that many of the sites were ones I didn’t personally have vetted (and perhaps should have before posting!) I am not on-board with policies that suggest “ignore it until it goes away” will solve anything. 😦 What a disappointment!!

  2. Zoikes! You know you are getting too wordy when your comment flies out half done.
    Sorry for blabbing. But thanks for resources.

    Still wish there was more for moms who are trying to be on top of it with tweeners. It’s really weird for me as the victim to see that there is not much out there to help teach girls not to do this.

    Ah, Relational Aggression. Please Sir, May I have some more?

  3. I was the victim of vicious and brutal bullying when I was growing up and now that I am raising a teenage girl, I find myself sometimes hyper-sensitive to it in an unexpected way. My daughter is 14 and thankfully has avoided all of the traits that made me a target. Unlike myself, she is absolutely beautiful (not just in a proud mom way, people genuinely tell me this about her all the time), she is extremely outgoing and approachable, gets great grades, and is quite the accomplished athlete. I’m glad that she has avoided being the target so far, but when I hear her or her friends discussing another person school in a mean way (bitchy girl judgement, ya know) I literally have to restrain myself from screaming at them that they have no idea how that girl feels and how she experiences life. I do always interject in these conversations (I’m blessed to be accepted as one of the “cool moms” so I can do this – funny how acceptance comes later in life for some of us) to make sure that they see how mean they are being in their judgements of that person and how, even if they don’t participate in the overt act of bullying that person, they are through their silence just as bad. I can’t tell you how many times growing up, if someone had just once stepped in for my defense, it would have made such a difference to me.

    Books like this and shows like “Mean Girls” are sadly popular with teens these days because they do see the bullies as the strong ones who are to be revered. As much as we’d like to say as a society we are becoming more enlightened and soft hearted towards the pain of others, I just still see high school buildings stuffed to the rafters with judgmental, snobby, elitist girls who can only make themselves feel better by knocking down others. I think it’s just the way the teenage mind is wired. Fighting for dominance in the pecking order seems to be how they ultimately decide who they will be.

    • Bullying is something that has never gone away and as much as people want to claim things are better now, I don’t see it. Like you point out Michelle; there is so much to be easily gained by knocking down others or staying silent that it becomes difficult to, if not BE a bully, than to not just be silent and let things slide. I’m not sure if that’s how the teen mind is wired of if it is more a reflection of how behaviors like this are allowed to pass by teachers and parents and other authorities and thus become more the norm? Either way it is great that you are in a position now to be able to interject for your daughter and friends to place that nugget of anti-bullying in there.

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