Friday, May 26, 2017

A Review of 'Want to Go Private?' by Sarah Darer Littman

"Abby and Luke chat online.  They've never met.  But they are going to.  Soon.

Abby is starting high school-- it should be exciting, so why doesn't she care?  Everyone tells her to 'make an effort,' but why can't she just be herself?  Abby quickly feels like she's losing a grip on her once-happy life.  The only thing she cares about anymore is talking to Luke, a guy she met online, who understands.  It feels dangerous and yet good to chat with Luke-- he is her secret, and she's his.  Then Luke asks her to meet him, and she does.  But Luke isn't who he says he is.  When Abby goes missing, everyone is left to put together the pieces.  If they don't, they'll never see Abby again."

My library network has a treasure trove of a digital library.  This is a book that I have checked out a few times on my Kindle, but for whatever reason, now was the time that this book really clicked and drew me in.  Once I was in, I was hooked; I couldn't put it down and would read it late into the night.

I don't think this book was particularly well-written-- the characters were rather flat and spoke in a way that was very canned.  It's not how normal people talk.  So that bothered me a bit.  The characters acted the same throughout the book... even Abby to a certain degree.  That was disappointing for me.  I was hoping they'd get less annoying and less self-absorbed.  One thing that really bothered me is that Abby seemed to create her own drama.  She was determined not to make new friends and to make her first year of high school as similar to her eighth grade year as possible it seems.  It wasn't for lack of her friend trying to involve her either.  I wish that Abby was a more likable character.  I think that would have made this book a bit stronger.

I think the magic in this book lay in the plot.  That's where the suspense and terror was.  I'm reading this from the perspective of a teacher.  I did my student teaching with 9th graders, who are exactly Abby's age.  That's what really hit home for me.  Something like this could happen to anyone.  I hated reading what this Luke guy was saying to Abby online even more so because I imagined him or someone like him saying something like that to my students.  It felt like an invasion to me, even as someone who is very much an onlooker in this instance.  It was difficult to read for this reason.

Something that confused me was why Abby did what Luke asked even when she very obviously felt uncomfortable with what she was being pressured to do.  I wonder what takes away from her ability to feel like she can say no.  Isolation probably has a lot to with it, but what else?  That doesn't take away from her feeling of discomfort.  Why deny how she's feeling about what she's being asked to do?

I hate the last part of the book where perspective kept shifting between Faith, Lily, and Abby's maybe-sort-possibly boyfriend.  I thought it was a way to waste time.  They weren't giving us any new information, just sharing their same worries (and in Lily's case, being really freaking selfish).  I wish that they had jumped ahead in time or just kept their worrying to one longer chapter.

Overall, this book has a wonderful concept-- it's so important to talk about this and show that no one is immune to treatment like this-- but it was a poorly executed book that was just too preachy at times.  I give 'Want to Go Private?':
Thanks for Reading!


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