Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Want to Go Private? | Sarah Darer Littman | 336p.

This book made me understand the decision that my parents made to put monitoring software on the computers/laptops when I was in junior high and high school--something I resented at the time (and convinced my tech-saavy cousin to remove from my computer when I was a junior). When I first heard about WTGP?, I knew that it was going to be an intense read--and let me tell you, it most definitely was.

Abby is such a normal freshman high school student, from her friends to her grades to her insecurities.  But she's lonely--a feeling exacerbated by her shyness and her fear of disappointing those around her.  When she meets Luke online, he makes her feel special.  They have the same tastes in music, they share opinions, and Luke always backs up Abby when she's upset with her friends or family.  She finds herself falling for this man that she barely knows but feels this very intense connection to.  When he asks her to meet him, Abby's upset with her parents so it's an easy decision--of course she'll meet him, if only to get back at her parents.

Abby is an incredibly relateable characters, which makes this story all the more realistic and terrifying.  She's very introverted, quite unlike her best friend, Faith, and she feels like her life is changing too much and falling apart at the seams.  It's easy to see how she might fall prey to a man like "Luke."  Watching her downward spiral into what strikes me as a co-dependent relationship with this online man is heart-breaking.  She has so much going for her in real life, but she can't see it through the fog of her loneliness and (self-imposed) isolation.

This book succeeds in showing what an intense situation this can become for a girl like Abby--how quickly one can become a victim without even realizing it.  However, what it really hits home is how much a decision like the one Abby makes affects everyone else--her friends, her sister, her parents.  Their grief, despair, and anger show the reader what it's like on the "other" side--how those closest to the victim suffer right alongside her in their own way.

After Abby's return to her family, the aftermath of her decision comes to full light for her.  She sees how it affects those around her and she has to deal with the incredibly unfortunate consequences that it has on her personal life.  I appreciated that Ms. Littman doesn't let the situation fade to black but shows us all the shocking details.  This is a book that I don't think I'd recommend that most teens read alone but WITH their parents. It's a book that I would recommend that parents of teenagers, teachers, librarians--anyone who works with teens on a regular basis--read because it's message is important.

There are fabulous resources that go alongside this book that I definitely recommend checking out if you're an adult who is going  to read this and share with teens (something I HIGHLY recommend doing, in case you didn't catch it).

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