Monday, June 2, 2008
A BAD BOY CAN BE GOOD FOR A GIRL
"the sound of them strong
stalking talking about their prey
like the way hammer meets nail
pounding, they say
pounding out the rhythms of attraction
like a woman was a drum like a body was a weapon
like there was something more they wanted
than the journey
like it was owed to them
steel toed they walk
and I'm wondering why this fear of men"
A BAD BOY CAN BE GOOD FOR A GIRL is the story told from the point of view of these three teens. Each of them has a relationship with the same guy at school. Josie is the wide-eyed freshman, who suddenly feels like a somebody. Nicolette, the junior, really thinks she is in control. And Aviva is the bright senior with the hip and trusting parents. All three think they know what they're getting into.
Some of the lessons that readers might glean from this quick, engaging, and powerful novel in verse include:
1. Look and think (and think again) before leaping into bed.
2. If your female schoolmates are saying and writing uncomplimentary things regarding the character and behavior of a boy, it might be wise to take them seriously.
3. You may think that you are wiser and less vulnerable than these three characters, or the girls you know in real life, but you're not.
A BAD BOY CAN BE GOOD FOR A GIRL will raise some eyebrows for being a book where the only marginally sympathetic male character is someone's father who shows up for a couple of sentences. We meet the athletic young man, the villain of the book who seriously lacks redeeming social values, through the stories that the three girls tell However, he is not one of the narrators.
I've already had a long, animated discussion with my wife about how there are guys are like TL: Are such guys clueless about their behavior or do they consciously develop these strategies to have sex with girls? (I was the one insisting that guys who behave like this are out there. I remember being an adolescent and overhearing guys boasting about being members of the "4F Club.")
Part of what makes Laurie Halse Anderson's beloved and award-winning SPEAK a must-read is its message to watch out for oneself and to be concerned for peers who are clearly troubled. Part of what makes Melvin Burgess' DOING IT such a terrific read is its amusing and sympathetic look at how young men's minds tick.
A BAD BOY CAN BE GOOD FOR A GIRL is a book about teens and sex that will fascinate and enlighten readers. It is a realistic and provocative story that will benefit from being read among groups of friends or along with older siblings so as to prompt discussion about the vital issues involved.