Published by Scholastic Paperbacks
Published on 25 March 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Source: my local library
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The remarkable New York Times bestseller!
It happens every year before homecoming -- the list is posted all over school. Two girls are picked from each grade. One is named the prettiest, one the ugliest. The girls who aren't picked are quickly forgotten. The girls who are become the center of attention, and each reacts differently to the experience.
With THE LIST, Siobhan Vivian deftly takes you into the lives of eight very different girls struggling with issues of identity, self-esteem, and the judgments of their peers. Prettiest or ugliest, once you're on the list, you'll never be the same.
A contemporary YA novel set in a school that anonymously releases a ‘list’ every year of eight girls, two per year, detailing them as either the ‘prettiest’ or ‘ugliest’ and the reason why.
I was a little apprehensive reaching for The List, because I didn’t really want to read a novel about bullying girls over their looks: but what I found was so much deeper than that. The novel moves a breakneck pace, each girl getting a chapter dedicated to her before moving on: with eight core cast members, that certainly helped to keep the pace going. I devoured the book in a single day because of its compulsive readability.
I really liked how being on the The List affected each girl so differently for whatever reason. One of the uglies decided to embrace it and refused to bathe for a week leading up to Homecoming. One of the pretties found that all of her friends abandoned her. Siblings, one a pretty and one a former ugly, were forced to face the strain The List had put on their relationship.
What really made it all worth it in the end was finding out exactly who had written the list, and the reason for picking each girl. While I don’t want to spoil anything, being put on the pretty list wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Some of them were on it to be punished, and some to punish others.
I found all of the characters really interesting and three-dimensional, and found the study into their insecurities realistic and believable. The behaviour and language seemed consistent with teenage girls. I could even identify with one of them: like Danielle, the freshman ‘ugly’, I was bullied mercilessly by boys for being more ‘masculine’ than then as early teenagers. I was taller, stronger, more athletic than anyone my age, and like Danielle, I found a place where I was accepted for who I am.
Although some stories seemed like they weren’t really given a satisfying conclusion, I’m glad I read this book and if you like contemporary YA that looks at power dynamics between teen girls and their friendships and relationships, I encourage you to check this one out, too.