Title: Some Girls Are
Author: Courtney Summers
Release Date: 01/05/10
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Description: Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard—falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High… until vicious rumors about her and her best friend’s boyfriend start going around. Now Regina’s been “frozen out” and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn’t come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend… if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don’t break them both first. Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.
Thoughts: I think books about bullying might not be for me. There are two issues I run into with them. First, it just seems so silly to me. And I know it’s not silly, I know it’s a real problem for many people out there, but my personality, even since I was younger, is just to totally dismiss rude/mean people so it’s so hard for me to relate to being bullied. Plus, I’ve tried really hard to remember middle school and high school and remember someone being bullied in an extreme manner and I just can’t (I was definitely never “popular” but I had friends from all different groups and felt comfortable with “popular” and “non-popular” people). Sure there were catty girls who stopped being friends with each other, but for the most part, in my school, the “popular” people either were friendly to everyone or just minded their own business. Second, I get so annoyed that no one tells a parent or teacher what’s going on. I get that it’s not the “cool” thing to do, but when your life and well being are threatened it just seems like there’s no other choice.
All that said, I did like this book. Having read Cracked Up to Be and This Is Not a Test I always wondered how Courtney Summers went from writing contemporary YA fiction to writing a zombie horror novel, but now I get it. Some Girls Are is 100% a horror novel. The bullying that Regina, the main character, carried out when she was popular and the bullying she received after she fell from grace was so reminiscent of a horror novel and I had a feeling of dread and anxiety the entire time I was reading this.
The thing is though, I never really liked Regina. Did I want to see her get bullied and hurt? No, of course not, but even after her former best friend and queen bee Anna ostracizes her, Regina is still a pretty terrible person. She is terrified of being alone and having to face how she treated people so instead she tries to latch on to the people she treated poorly in the past. Forgiveness is great and everything, but I was happy when those people rejected her because for much of the book I never felt like Regina was really sincere. She continues to manipulate everyone around her from her former best friend to the people she’s trying to be friends with now to her mother.
My dislike of Regina isn’t a criticism though, I thought what Courtney Summers did with Regina was really brilliant. Yes, you feel sorry for her for how she’s being bullied, but it’s also hard to be really sympathetic to someone who has a history of being such a rhymes with witch and who doesn’t really seem to be using this terrible situation to be a better person. Yet as the story went on and what Anna and her posse did to Regina got worse and worse I did come to root for Regina. I felt myself getting caught up in her situation and hoping that she would be able to put Anna in her place.
Then there’s Michael. The quiet boy who sits alone at lunch and has pretty much no friends because Regina, egged on by Anna, made his life a living hell when he first came to their high school. A part of me definitely wanted Michael to be nice to her, even though I thought Regina was manipulative I still don’t want to see anyone forced to eat lunch alone in a bathroom stall. But I also never trusted Regina and I didn’t want to see Michael get hurt or caught up in the hell that Anna was putting Regina through.
My only real criticism of this book is the end. The whole book is just one horrible thing after another, but then it’s over. I couldn’t believe how anti-climatic the final step to end the bullying was and then how everything just wrapped up so nicely. Of course all of the characters will have to deal with some serious issues going forward, but the ending of the book just seemed too easy.
Bottom Line: Even though bullying books might not be for me it’s hard to argue with how well done this one is. Courtney Summers is really a terrific writer who writes compelling stories and nuanced characters. I liked the endings of Cracked Up to Be and This Is Not a Test more than the easy ending to this one, but it’s still a more than solid book.