This book was just so awesome. Being a verse novel from the point of view of each of the three girls in turn, it feels very much like you’re reading someone’s diary, so feels very personal. Because of how personal it feels, you can’t help but be drawn into it all; you really get into the heads, and hearts, of these three girls, and it was so unbelievably powerful. It also made it hard to read when you know, you just know how things are going to turn out for each girl. The girls are all very different, and so have a different take on the “same old story”- the story being boy meets girl, girl falls for boy, boy breaks girl’s heart – but with each girl, you want to shout and scream at them for their own sake not to fall for it, beat the crap out of this boy, and then give them all a big hug. It was also brilliant that the boy wasn’t named; without a name, he can become the embodiment of every single bad boy out there, and all female readers who know a bad boy will see him in this guy, like I did. The book then becomes your story too as you relive your own experiences while reading about Josie, Nicolette and Aviva’s. As upsetting as it can be, it’s also comforting to think that you’re not the only one.
It’s difficult to talk about the sex in this novel, as it’s all connected with the behaviour of the boy, the feelings of the girls, and the choices the girls make. Before I read the book, I had heard that it was graphic, and it is, but not as much as I thought it would be. The intercourse and oral sex scenes aren’t overly detailed, but there is no steering clear of the desire the girls feel for the boy, and their enjoyment during sexual acts. I found the desire and the enjoyment to stand out and was very believable, but it didn’t overshadow the pain each girl felt when the boy hurt them, which I think is just wonderful. Although there are only a few small mentions, masturbation is brought up, but in a way that makes it seem completely normal, like brushing your teeth, and not taboo, which is great and different from Deenie by Judy Blume, in which the main character gets a bit embarrassed when the topic is brought up in class discussions on sex I don’t think anyone who was to read A Boy Can be Good for a Girl would take the view that sex is fun and they can go and have it, and everything will be fine; this is a story where the sex and the feelings are one and the same, and not two separate things. Although the girls find enjoyment in sexual acts, there is regret when they get so hurt.
I got the feeling that the story wasn’t necessarily moralistic with a message, as in “this is what you should do...”, but more along the lines of being informing as to what can happen, so readers are aware, and can hopefully avoid similar situations. A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl is such a powerful, poignant book, and struck such a chord with me. It was just brilliant. All teenage girls should read this book; they should be forewarned. As Josie says, “Forewarned is forearmed. Forever.”
As a reader: I thought this book was honest, moving and powerful and I loved everything about it. It's unforgettable.
As a parent: The focus on sisterhood in the novel was amazing, and I think all teenagers should read it.
As a writer: What can I say? This is a brilliantly written verse novel and I'm totally in awe of the writer's skills.
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
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Tanya Lee Stone’s website
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