Banned Books #40- ttyl

Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month we read TTYL by Lauren Myracle.

ttyl (Internet Girls, #1)

Synopsis:

Audacious author Lauren Myracle accomplishes something of a literary miracle in her second young-adult novel, ttyl (Internet instant messaging shorthand for “talk to you later”), as she crafts an epistolary novel entirely out of IM transcripts between three high-school girls.

Far from being precious, the format proves perfect for accurately capturing the sweet histrionics and intimate intricacies of teenage girls. Grownups (and even teenage boys) might feel as if they’ve intercepted a raw feed from Girl Secret Headquarters, as the book’s three protagonists–identified by their screen names “SnowAngel,” “zoegirl,” and “mad maddie”–tough their way through a rough-and-tumble time in high school. Conversations range from the predictable (clothes, the delicate high-school popularity ecosystem, boys, boys in French class, boys in Old Navy commercials, etc.) to the the jarringly explicit (the girls discuss female ejaculation: “some girls really do, tho. i read it in our bodies, ourselves”) and the unintentionally hilarious (Maddie’s IM reduction of the Christian poem “Footprints”–“oh, no, my son. no, no, no. i was carrying u, don’t u c?”).

But Myracle’s triumph in ttyl comes in leveraging the language-stretching idiom of e-mail, text messaging, and IM. Reaching to express themselves, the girls communicate almost as much through punctuation and syntactical quirks as with words: “SnowAngel: ‘cuz–drumroll, please–ROB TYLER is in my french class!!! *breathes deeply, with hand to throbbing bosom* on friday we have to do “une dialogue” together. i get to ask for a bite of his hot dog.'”

Myracle already proved her command of teenage girl-ness with Kissing Kate, but the self-imposed convention of ttyl allows a subtlety that is even more brilliant. Parents might like reading the book just to quantify how out of touch they are, but teens will love the winning, satisfyingly dramatic tale of this tumultuous trio. 

First published: 2004
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2011 (source)
Reasons: offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: If you’ve been following our Banned Books series for a while now, you might remember that I don’t see any reason for a book to be banned outright. Handled delicately in certain situations – yes, of course but banned? Never! Then there’s the other books that pop up on our list where I can see no reason on earth why they should be banned/challenged and ttyl is one of those cases. I don’t remember there being much offensive language to be honest, but if there was it wasn’t overly offensive to me if I didn’t even notice it. Certainly, it’s no worse than what teenagers would hear on a daily basis – at school, on the streets, on the television…need I go on? And excuse me, we are challenging a book for having a religious viewpoint now?! I’m not particularly religious myself but I quite enjoy reading about different religions (especially if it’s done in a non preachy type way) so I could never accept this as a reason for preventing access to a book.

CHRISSI: I don’t agree with any of the reasons for this book being challenged at all. To me, it just read like a realistic conversation between three teenage girls. Challenging it doesn’t sit well with me because it’s completely sending the wrong message. Why should normal teenage conversation be censored? It’s not a surprise to me that teenagers discuss sex and swear a little. As for the religious viewpoint, that’s ridiculous. Religion isn’t a strong topic within this book!

How about now?

BETH: It’s been thirteen years since ttyl was first published and I don’t think attitudes have changed extraordinarily in that time. When I first came to this book I thought the reasons for challenging it would be entirely different and I was surprised to read what they were. I guess because this book is written as a series of messages between a group of friends and a small portion of it is written in “text-speak” or acronyms like ttyl (talk to you later), I assumed that the main complaint would be that it encourages poor communication between teenagers! Imagine my surprise when instead they quote sexual explicitness and inappropriate for age group reasons! I don’t believe that you’re going to find anything in this book that is shocking or not what normal, healthy fifteen year old girls talk about with their close friends.

CHRISSI: No. This book should not be challenged in my opinion. Like Beth, I could understand if there was a problem with communication/text speak as that’s something that does annoy me (not enough to challenge the book!) I actually wondered if it might be about internet safety and that something terrible might have happened (even then those books have a place, an educative place!) but no… it was normal teenagers speaking about normal things in their lives as they grow up.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I have to say, I approached this book with slight trepidation – I wasn’t sure I would enjoy an entire novel written in message format and I definitely wasn’t the target audience for this book! It’s not really for me, to be honest but I can see why teenage girls would love it and I really appreciate the strong female friendships that the author wrote about which are so important in the turbulent time of adolescence.

CHRISSI: I wasn’t a fan of this book. It took me a while to get through and I found it a little bit tedious in places. Remember though, I’m not the target audience for this book. I can totally see why teenagers would enjoy this book though. I love that the characters have such strong friendships. So whilst it wasn’t for me, I’m sure others would love it!

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Probably!

CHRISSI: Yes! (to teenagers)

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Lola Offline

Lola Offline

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Hatchette Books

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Love And Other Man-Made Disasters

Synopsis:

Delilah Hoover has gone dark.

She’s left school, changed her name and moved to Paris. It’s not what she planned but there’s no other choice, because she did something bad. Something nobody will forget. It made her trend on Twitter, and it’s the first thing that comes up when you google her.

Paris is a new start, with new friends – like socially inept geek Ben, keyboard warrior Vee, and the impossibly perfect Tariq, but could the City of Lights offer more? Awkward dates, accidental afternoon drunkness and a perfect kiss; Delilah’s life as a normal teenager is seemingly back on track, or is it?

Sometimes learning to be happy with yourself is the hardest lesson of all.

Thoughts:

Sometimes I love to read books that I know won’t take me long and they’ll be enjoyable. I thought this would be the case with Lola Offline and it really was. Lola Offline was a quick and easy to read book which will be perfect for fans of teenage fiction, especially those into social media.

It centres around Delilah. Delilah makes a stupid mistake online (like so many of her age and beyond!) she jokes about something and it is taken seriously. Delilah is labelled a racist and shunned by her peers. Delilah decides that she wants to start afresh somewhere. She moves to Paris. A fresh start. Delilah now goes by the name of Lola, leaving her past behind so that her new friends can’t google her and find out about her past that shames her. Lola meets some new friends and falls in love with Paris. However, Lola’s life isn’t back on track as it doesn’t take long for the truth to come out. Lola’s new peers react in different ways. Lola (Delilah) really has to learn about herself and how she can be move on from her past and be genuinely happy once more.

I thought this was a decent read which highlighted the issues around social media. It’s not just social media, sometimes words can be completely taken out of context even when they’re vocalised.I think this is such an important read for the modern day teenager who can quite often spend a lot of their time on social media. It’s about the perils of social media and how one comment can go viral easily and affect your life.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

It’s a story about how words can hurt more than just yourself. 

This One Summer

This One Summer

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It’s a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

In This One Summer two stellar creators redefine the teen graphic novel. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of her teen age — a story of renewal and revelation.

Thoughts:

I am steadily getting into graphic novels and This One Summer is one that kept on popping up when I mentioned a growing love of graphic novels. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I thought it was going to be a cutesy read, but it wasn’t. It had much more depth than I had anticipated.

This One Summer is about a summer friendship. Rose and Windy only really see each other in the summer. They have grown apart over time. Windy is a little younger and still wants to have a lot of fun, whereas Rose is maturing and wouldn’t mind talking about guys she likes. Despite them changing, they’re determined to stay friends. They hang out together and watch some scary films. Rose is dealing with some family issues and this makes her holiday destination not as special as it used to be.

I enjoyed how This One Summer deals with issues that so many teens and adults are going through. There’s sexuality, miscarriage, body image and adoption to name a few. As you can see from some of the topics, it really wasn’t the summer read you might expect from the title.

I enjoyed the illustrations and devoured this book. It may not be my favourite graphic novel that I’ve read but it was a fantastic read nevertheless.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A deeper than you might expect graphic novel!

Head Over Heels (Geek Girl #5)

Head Over Heels (Geek Girl, #5)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Harriet Manners knows almost every fact there is.

She knows duck-billed platypuses don’t have stomachs.
She knows that fourteen squirrels were once detained as spies.
She knows only one flag in the world features a building.

And for once, Harriet knows exactly how her life should go. She’s got it ALL planned out. So when love is in the air, Harriet is determined to Make Things Happen!
If only everyone else would stick to the script…

Has GEEK GIRL overstepped the mark, and is following the rules going to break hearts all over again?

Thoughts:

There’s something about the Geek Girl books that just makes me happy. I absolutely love Harriet as our main protagonist. She’s such a lovable character even if she can be infuriating at times. Head Over Heels is a wonderful addition to the series. I loved stepping back into Harriet’s world.

As ever, we begin the story with Harriet giving us a recap of what she’s been up to. One of the things that I love about this series is that I’m getting so familiar with the characters. I even have love for Toby, Harriet’s ‘stalker’. Harriet isn’t modeling as much as she used to be, so she’s putting all of her time and energy into organising her group of friends. As we know, Harriet is super organised. She wants to plan an amazing sleepover. She’s even got an itinerary. Harriet fails to realise what her friends are going through which makes it really hard to agree on a date. Wilbur, makes a reappearance. When Harriet overhears a conversation, she gets stuck on the idea that she has to take modeling seriously to help Wilbur out of a sticky financial situation. Once Harriet gets stuck on an idea, she goes through with her plans even if it does involve a little meddling along the way.

I absolutely love this series. I find it so addictive and easy to read. The characters, as I mentioned, seem so familiar, it’s like catching up with friends! I love that Harriet has now got a core group of friends. She’s found it difficult in the past to make friends and whilst it isn’t plain sailing for Harriet, it’s wonderful to read about their group dynamics. I read this book in no time at all. It’s so fun and heart-warming to read.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Another great instalment of the Geek Girl series. This fun and heart-warming series should be on your radar if you love cute and funny reads!

Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit- Maggot Moon

Maggot Moon

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

When his best friend Hector is suddenly taken away, Standish Treadwell realises that it is up to him, his grandfather and a small band of rebels to confront and defeat the ever-present oppressive forces of The Motherland.

Thoughts:

I’m pretty sure that I’d heard of this book before Beth decided to pick it as part of our challenge. I mean Maggot Moon is a memorable title, you’d have to admit! I wasn’t sure what I was going into though when I picked up this story. I thought it was highly engaging and very easy to read. Maggot Moon has such short chapters its easy to make your way through and I believe would encourage some more reluctant readers!

Maggot Moon is a dystopian tale which follows a dyslexic protagonist Standish. Standish lives in an alternate univeerse where the Motherland has taken control of England. In this reality, surveillance and capital punishment are totally normal. It’s a horrible existence for everyone in society. Standish is singled out from his peers because of his dyslexia, vivid imagination and his one blue and one brown eye. It makes him a target for bullies and for the awful society in which he lives in. Standish lives with his grandfather as his family has been taken by the Motherland. However, there is a secret hidden below Standish’s house which could destroy the Motherland.

I loved the short chapters in this book, because they kept me utterly gripped. I went into this book thinking that it might be suitable for younger children but I don’t think it is. There are some incredibly violent moments. Maggot Moon is a well written book which I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. It’s about friendship, loyalty and being different to the rest.

For Beth’s wonderful review, check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (August):
Looking for JJ- Anne Cassidy

Banned Books #25 A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

Banner made by Luna @ Lunaslittlelibrary

Welcome to our latest addition of Banned Books. This month we read A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl by Tanya Lee Stone.

A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl

Synopsis:

Josie, Nicolette and Aviva are three very different girls who all meet the same bad boy with an irresistible knack for getting into their blood and under their skin. Each is sure that she can keep a cool head about him, but how much are they really in control?

First published: 2006
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2013 (source)
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: Like many of the other novels in our series of frequently challenged/banned books this year, this is a fairly recent release and I don’t believe too much has changed in our attitudes to books (either for the worse or the better) in the past ten years. This is one of those books where I can see why people may have had problems with it, mainly due to the sexual content. In that way, I can’t really see it being taught in schools (I can imagine a few red faces, including the teachers!) but I see no reason why it can’t be stocked in a school library for teenagers to read on their own time as I do feel it has some important messages.

CHRISSI: I was surprised at how recent this book was. I don’t know why, but I thought it had an ‘older’ feel to it. As I was reading the book, I realised that it wouldn’t be a great classroom read. It is indeed, sexually explicit. That’s not to say that I don’t think it should be available to teens. I do. As Beth says, it would be great to be stocked in the library. Sadly, I don’t see that likely to happen in many school libraries due to its content.

How about now?

BETH: See previous answer! I probably don’t agree with ALL of the reasons for challenging this book to be honest and as I mentioned, I do believe it’s important for teenagers to have access to it but I can’t remember any instances of offensive language or references to drugs. Everything mentioned in this novel I feel is part of a normal, curious adolescence and will be things that teenagers are likely to come across during this period in their lives. Wrapping them up in cotton wool and shielding them from the cold, hard facts of life I feel will do more damage than good in the long run.

CHRISSI:  As I said, I can see why this book wouldn’t be used in the classroom. However, I think it’s an accurate representation of adolescence and certainly think it should be available for teenagers. I think all too often teenagers are shielded from this kind of read and there’s no reason for that!

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: There were lots of things to like about this book. Firstly, it’s a very quick read, partially because the entirety of the novel is written in prose which makes it both interesting and easy to whizz through – I think I finished it in about an hour? We get to hear three teenage girls points of view when they meet, date and in some cases sleep with the notorious “bad boy” of the school and how this affects them emotionally as a result when he gets the only thing he really wants from their relationships – sex. I think it’s really important for teenage girls struggling with new, very adult emotions and who may be feeling particularly vulnerable to reassure them that they are not alone and that they don’t have to do anything that they may not feel ready for.

CHRISSI: I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t expect to whizz through it as much as I did. It helps that the book is in prose as it really picks up the pace of the book. It’s one of those where I kept thinking ‘just one more snippet’ and before I knew it I was finished. I don’t think it’s an overly memorable read, but I think it’ll be relatable to so many teens!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Probably!
CHRISSI: Yes!

Swimming To The Moon

Swimming to the Moon

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Hodder Children’s Books

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

‘Just call me Bee. Please, please call me that. If you call me Beatrix Daffodil Tulip Chrysanthemum Rose Edwards I shan’t answer you. I am not being rude or unfriendly, or insolent as Mrs Dixon my teacher calls me. I just don’t like my name. Well, would you?’

Bee stumbles through life in her stripy socks with her head in the clouds, doing her very best to keep out of the way of her bickering parents and avoid the bendy tap dancing freak Crystal Kelly – who makes her life a misery. But when Crystal double-dares her to volunteer for a sponsored swim in honour of her great grandmother Beatrix’s memory, Bee can’t back down. Even though she is terrified of water and cannot swim!

Then new boy Moon-Star gallops to Bee’s rescue on his horse and takes her to meet Old Alice, who lives in a beautiful painted wagon. As Bee enters this new world, her life is changed for ever.

Finally she has an ally. Down by the promise tree the new friends make a pact – Moon Star will teach Bee to swim if Bee will teach him to read. They spit on their hands and shake on their vow and a beautiful friendship begins.

Thoughts:

I love Jane Elson’s writing, so when I had the opportunity to read her latest book I jumped at the chance. I find Jane Elson’s books to be incredibly heart-warming and her latest, Swimming To The Moon, is no exception.

Swimming To The Moon follows Bee who has just lost her great-gran, Beatrix. Bee was incredibly close to her great-gran and struggles to come to terms with her loss. Bee promised her great-gran that she would learn to swim. One day, when a new boy Moon Star rescues her from a group of kids being unkind to her it changes Bee’s life. Bee gets to know Moon Star and his grandmother Old Alice who are travellers. She discovers that Moon Star can not read or read. Moon Star and Bee make a pact. They promise that Moon Star will help Bee learn to swim if she teaches him to read.

I thought this story was absolutely adorable. It was honest in the way it didn’t give its main characters a perfect family. Bee’s Dad wasn’t the most supportive and he infuriated me. He argued with Bee’s mum. She certainly didn’t come from a perfect family which is bound to be relatable to so many readers. Moon Star also didn’t have the ‘perfect’ family even though his rather eccentric grandmother did really care for him. Both characters are so lovable and easy to love as we watch them grow.

I love Jane Elson’s stories. They’re magical, fun and heart-warming at the same time. I always finish a Jane Elson book with a smile on my face. I highly recommend her books.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Another brilliant book from the wonderfully talented Jane Elson.