Monday, December 3, 2012
Plot Summary: Dylan Mahoney made a big mistake. Not paying attention to the advice of her two best friends, she went out with a jerk of a guy, lost her virginity to him, and went and kicked the crap out of his sports car when he cheated on her. Angered, he gets revenge by sending naked photos of her to everyone in school. Dylan winds up taking all the blame and gets suspended. She gets labeled as the social pariah of her class and gets called a whole host of things with “slut” being the nicest. She barely escapes charges of child pornography and as a result spends the rest of her school year being schooled from home. She spends all her time doing homework and being holed up in her room. With very limited access to the Internet, she stumbles among the blogs of homeschooled fundamentalist Christian girls and discovers a world full of things she could never understand, such as hope chests and the ultimate goal of a woman’s life—submission to her husband. She is soon entranced and fascinated by the world that is so different from her own. Wanting to be a writer and having nothing else to do, Dylan creates a blog of her own under the name “Faith” in hope of reaching these girls and finding a way out of her loneliness. Soon Dylan takes the charade a little too far when she concocts a scheme to get one of the girls—Abigail, the Queen Bee of the blog realm—to invite her to her home for two weeks. Can she hide who she really is, especially when she sees the darker side to Abigail’s life.
Critical Evaluation: The story starts with a typical sexting incident which gets the girl in trouble and taking all the blame because she’s in the pictures. It is a little shocking how bad Dylan’s life goes after she gets in trouble—no one speaks to her at school and her parents barely treat her any better. Yet, her ex-boyfriend gets off with no punishment (for distributing the photos in the first place). Dylan is a likeable character. She gets drawn into a world so different from her own and uses her persona as a way to have an outlet toward possible friendship. Of course, she is eventually exposed but there are some good questions asked about religion and different cultural views that would make for a compelling discussion.
Reader's Annotation: Dylan gets in trouble for sexting and is shunned by her friends. Turning to the Internet she discovers a whole new world in the blogs of homeschooled fundamentalist Christian girls. But how long can she hide who she really is when she gets a chance to visit one of the girls at her home?
Author Information: Josie Bloss grew up in East Lansing, Michigan. She attended the University of Michigan, where she was a member of the best college marching band in the country and a staff reporter for the Michigan Daily. After obtaining a degree in Political Science, she tried to decide if she wanted to be a lawyer while wrangling paper in several large Chicago law firms that are attempting to take over the world. Finding herself uninspired by global domination, she decided to relocate to somewhere more quiet and write instead. When not mining her high school journals for material and wishing there were marching band options for adults, Josie enjoys obsessing over various TV shows, karaoke and all things theater. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana (Bloss, 2010).
Curriculum Ties: Different views of life, homeschooling, religion, consequences of sexting
Booktalking Ideas: Read scenes about the life of the fundamentalist Christian girls. It will show how different their lives are from other teens.
Reading Level/Interest Age: 13+
Challenge Issues: Lots of open discussion on sexual topics and the sexting issue
Challenge Defense: If this book were challenged, I would make sure the library has a Challenge Defense File ready for such a situation. Inside the Challenge Defense File, librarians and the public could find:
· A copy of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill)
· A copy of the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at http://www.ala.org/offices/oif/statementspols/ftrstatement/freedomreadstatement)
· A copy of the library’s own selection policy (my library, the La Vista Public Library, has a policy but it is not online so I can’t link to it as an example).
· A copy of the library’s citizen’s complaint/reconsideration form (my library, the La Vista Public Library’s, form is called the City of La Vista Service Request form).
· Copies of reviews—both good and bad—from reputable library and publishing services to justify why a book was selected for inclusion in the collection. These include not only reviews from such journals as School Library Journal, VOYA, Horn Book, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, but also any mention of books on YALSA lists and other copies of articles about any awards or nominations such books may have received.
· Include a short rationale file for other coworkers so if the librarian in charge of selecting materials is not available when a challenge occurs the other staff members have some information to go by (the rational would include such information as a short summary, what could be challenged, reviews, awards and nominations, etc.)
· Include for staff members a copy of “Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials,” a document written by the American Library Association. Make sure that staff reviews this document periodically so they are prepared and know how to face such situations. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/challengeslibrarymaterials/copingwithchallenges/strategiestips)
Reason for Inclusion: Great realistic story with a lot of real life applicability.