August 17, 2006

"Bad" Boys? Badder Young Women

Admittedly, I began this book with contempt prior to investigation. The idea that A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl seemed a bit ...trite. I mean, are there really "bad" boys? Does this set up a scenario where there are then "good" girls? But I was wrong about the plot angle. Told from three different viewpoints in prose poetry, this short, quick novel packs in a lot of information about the reality of high school and high school relationships -- the compromises and negotiations that happen. It also tells the truths about the losses -- and the gains.

Everybody has at least wanted to get together with a 'bad boy' once, and Josie, Nicolette and Aviva can't believe their luck when the gorgeous T.L. seems captivated by them. He does thing... that turn them to mush, that make their pulses race and their brains disconnect (which, if they were still thinking at that point, should have signaled MAJOR practice). He says things -- sweet things, open-hearted things that make them believe he might be The One. But is he really only after "one thing?"

Josie and Aviva makes the mistake that many girls do -- ignore their girlfriends, ignore warning bells, the whole nine, because he makes them feel amazing. Nicolette is a loner, and she knows what she wants. She's used to be the one to make the players pant... but not this time. For all three girls, everything is going so well... And then, - pouf - it's over. He cheats. He loses interest. He tales tales. All three girls wonder, What happened? What did I do? It is Josie who first realizes that she may be wrongly blaming herself. She is the first to ask the question, What if it's HIM!?

Josie's warning isn't exactly followed by Nicolette, because she thinks she can outwit any male. Aviva, who has lots of friends in many cliques never even hears about it, but it's there, it's written in the back of their library's copy of Forever, by Judy Blume, and it's true. Lots of girls in their high school agree. As Josie says, "Forewarned is Forearmed, Forever."

This is definitely a YA book. It's not shy about details, so it's one for the fifteen-and-up group. It's a novel that can get girls talking -- really talking about what happens in relationships, and how to take care of themselves and get what they want and need. The fact is, this so-called 'bad boy' was good for these girls -- in that their eyes were opened, their friendships were strengthened, and they recognized what they wanted out of a relationship, what they didn't want, and a little more about how to get what they needed.

My only wistful comment is that I wish that one girl at least had been able to hear the warning and decide not to get involved. There is an air of solipsism in this novel, that everyone is going to go over Fool's Hill in spite of warning, and I don't quite agree. At any rate, should every girl insist on going after a 'bad' boy, perhaps this book will help make the recovery complete.

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