(I just realized it might also be helpful if I put the title of the books in my blog titles so you can see what all's been covered--Hello! Must go back and do that...)
So I just finished Harsh Pink by Melody Carlson, and I have to 'fess up, I thought it was pretty good!
I expected this to be one of those true "homework" books (nobody falls in love in it; even worse, it's an "issue" book). But Carlson's characters are solid and her tale is well-told.
Harsh Pink is another of the inspirational YA novels I've read in my efforts to learn more about this market. Here's the cover:
It's #12, the last, of Carlson's True Colors series. Each book deals with a different "teen issue," and in this case, it was mean girls.
Harsh Pink opens with main character Reagan moving to a new school and inadvertently bouncing the most popular girl there from the varsity cheerleader squad. Sort of.
Apparently, Miss Popular blew off practicing for tryouts, and there's also the sophomore, former JV captain who made the squad.
So Reagan's one of two new cheerleaders Miss Popular, as first alternate, takes aim at getting off the squad. Ultimately, Reagan gets pulled into Miss Popular's circle and former JV captain becomes the target of MP's stunts.
What I liked about Harsh Pink is the way Carlson demonstrates both the power of one popular person over the actions of many (weaker) others, and the pressure to conform when that popular person chooses to take you under her wing.
The timing of my reading this book couldn't have been better because JRM and I had just been discussing our own daughters and how they're growing up and how soon they'll be dealing with other girls, mean girls, etc.
I shared with JRM my concern that our oldest really cares about what her friends think and being cool and how she's perceived by others... Our youngest tends to be more like me--You wanna play with me? Be fun and grab a spot in the sandpile. You're in.
At the same time, while I tended to be loose when it came to friends and excluding others as a child/teen, the encounters I remember most painfully were the times I stood by and watched while others were targeted.
I think we all recall how kid politics worked. And Carlson captures those dynamics beautifully in Harsh Pink. Reagan's a sympathetic character. She's not the one pulling the pranks or leaving people out, but she often stands by and watches the events unfold--it's not her deal, right? But the book isn't preachy. It's well-done.
At times, I found the writing a bit repetitive and there wasn't a lot going on outside the mean girl dynamic, but at 210 pages, that's OK. And knowing there's a tragedy by book's end keeps the tension high.
Shew! The teenage years are tough. I applaud Carlson for tackling this thorny subject, and I give Harsh Pink a B+.
I encourage my teen followers to give it a read--especially if you're in the position of victim or the one feeling pressured to conform. It's got some good insights. Heck, even if you're not a teen it has some good insights.
If anyone else has read other books in this series, I'd love to hear your recommendations! Otherwise, read on, reader friends and mean people *stink*~
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