At first glance, The List by Siobhan Vivian seems like any other teen girl book. It’s full of drama, cliques, and back-stabbing. I started this book expecting a quick read that I would soon forget. While it’s true that this book does have many of the same elements as most teen chick lit, it also questions the concept of “pretty” and the role that appearance takes in our lives.
The List is set in Mount Washington, where every year before homecoming, a list of the four prettiest and four ugliest (one of each from each grade) is posted all over the high school. The list is stamped with an embossed seal to ensure its veracity. No one knows who is writing the list, but everyone takes it as gospel and those eight girls who are lucky/unlucky enough to see their names in print are immediately treated differently by the student body. The book is written in the third person but each chapter focuses on one of the eight girls, so the reader gets multiple perspectives on this week after the list comes out. To be honest, I felt that some of the characters were shallow and forgettable. A few of the characters, however, were deep and had something original to say. By the end of the book, I felt horrible for all girls on the list (both pretty and ugly) and was shocked to find out who had created it.
I think this would be a good book to use for a teen discussion group. It would be a good way to start a conversation about bullying, discrimination, and self-esteem.
Recommendation: 4 out of 5 lupines