Sunday, April 19, 2015
So recently YA author Courtney Summers started the hashtag #ToTheGirls. If you haven't checked it out yet, do so now. It was a HUGE movement and was even mentioned on the Today show! What it boiled down to was this: On April 14th people took to social media to tell girls across the world that they are seen, heard, and loved. They shared advice, offered encouragement, and told those who'd made a difference in their lives, thanks. It was AWESOME!
Needless to say, I was inspired to read some of Courtney Summers' books. She writes dark, gritty YA stories that deal with topics such as rape, bullying, and grief. I headed to my local library and checked out SOME GIRLS ARE and FALL FOR ANYTHING. Her newest book ALL THE RAGE just came out and I can't wait to read it.
SOME GIRLS ARE is about a girl named Regina who is a part of the popular group at her small town high school. Regina's a follower, letting herself be led around and told what to do by the leader of her clique, Anna. And Anna is a bitch. She bullies people for no good reason other than that she can.
Over the years, Regina and Anna and the others in their group have hurt and isolated several kids at their school, including the new boy Michael, the sweet girl, Liz, and the overweight girl, Kara. Kara is the girls who is always on the outside looking in, begging to be part of the in-crowd. She despises Regina more than anyone for always doing Anna's dirty work and never letting her hang out with them.
One night when Regina's boyfriend Josh throws one of his typical blowout parties, Regina is assigned to be designated driver. She spends the night taking care of Josh and wishing she too can be drunk so she can just get through another night of the same old shit. As it is, she already has a hard time eating because she hates herself so much for being too weak to stand up to Anna and too ashamed to apologize to the people she's wronged.
When all her friends disappear for the night and Josh and Anna pass out, Anna's boyfriend, Donnie, forces himself onto Regina, trying to rape her. She manages to get away and ends up at Kara's house. Kara, who she doesn't like. Who doesn't like her back. But Kara is totally nice, offering kind words and hearing her out. Regina tells Kara what happened with Donnie and Kara convinces Regina to keep her mouth shut about it. It will just cause too many problems, Kara says. But then the next day at school, Regina learns that Kara told everyone she slept with Donnie. And just like that, Regina is out of the group and Kara is in. And the whole schools knows it. They revel in it--one of the mean girls finally getting exactly what she gave to everyone else. And Kara...well, she's finally gotten what she always wanted and she isn't about to let Regina off easy. And so the bullying begins.
Regina spends months being the brunt of everyone's joke, constantly humiliated and shoved around and harassed. The girls and guys will stop at nothing to make her pay for what Kara says she did--and all because Anna tells them to.
No matter how she responds or what she says, Regina can't get them off her back. So she takes solace in hanging out with Michael, who doesn't like her because she bullied him on Anna's demands, but who miraculously takes pity on her and lets her sit with him at lunch. Meanwhile, Liz makes sure to let Regina know that this is how it feels to be on Anna's bad side. This is exactly what Anna and Regina did to Liz not so long ago, driving her to near suicide. And no apology Regina gives now will matter to Liz because it couldn't possibly be genuine. But Regina tries anyway.
As each day passes, the bullying gets worse and worse. Regina isn't the kind to just hunch her shoulders and let it happen though. She pushes back, serving up her own versions of revenge. But they're small hits compared to what her old friends serve up.
And all the while, Regina and Michael get closer and start liking one another. It's tough because Michael is unsure of Regina and who she really is. Can he truly like someone who used to make his life hell? And Regina is doubtful that Michael could ever really like her if he knew how low she wanted to stoop to get her old friends back for what they've done. Things come to a startling head when the girls drive Regina to the outskirts of town and beat her up. Surprisingly, Liz comes to Regina's defense and threatens Anna with going to the principal and police for all that she's done. Anna gets scared and offers Regina a truce.
And that's where the story ends. Yeah, I kind of told you a lot of the details, but I couldn't help it. If you don't have time to read this book but you do have time to read my post, I want to get across to you how important the issue of bullying is and how so many people out there are doing really great things (whether that be to start a hashtag, write a book, or use their voices) to spread the word that bullying needs to be stopped. Bullying comes in so many forms and happens at younger and younger ages these days, especially now that we have phones and social media in the palms of our hands. They're just more tools to hurt each other with.
I love how Summers isn't afraid to broach such tough topics. This plot constantly moves forward and her characters were very well drawn out. The details and dialogue were spot-on realistic. SOME GIRLS ARE does not have a nicely tied up, happy ending. Like what usually happens in real life, everything just sort of calms down. Also like in real life, the bad guys sometimes get away with being bad and the good guys don't always get justice. Maybe Regina wasn't the greatest girl (I mean we're all guilty of something bad at one time or another), but she didn't deserve what happened to her.
I think it's time we ladies come together and stand united against being mean to each other. How can we expect equal and better treatment from men when we can't do the same for our fellow women? Let's keep in mind that we are all human, we all make mistakes, and we all deserve second chances and apologies. Being mean IS NOT cool! Talk to a grown up, girls. Tell them when you're being bullied. Use your voice to stand up for yourself and for others. Be friends with everyone, not just one small group. Apologize when you make a mistake. Encourage and lift up other girls up. When #GirlsUnite anything is possible :)
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