Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers,

“We’re the kind of popular that parents like to pretend doesn’t exist so they can sleep at night, and we’re the kind of popular that makes our peers unable to sleep at night.  Everyone hates us, but they’re afraid of us too.”

At least, that’s the kind of popular Regina Afton used to be.  But this?  This is a freeze-out.

I was a mean girl in high school.  (yes, a mean fat girl.  I know, a head-spinner.) I know that term has kind of lost its sting after the movie, after Tina Fey turned it into a punchline.  Don’t get me wrong, I like that movie a lot too, but it’s a comedy, a good comedy, yeah, but it’s a haha look at “mean girls” in high school.  Ah, how quickly we forget.  There’s nothing haha about it.  The Booklist review suggested this book was good for libraries “where Gossip Girl maintains a loyal following” … but there’s nothing glossy, glamorous, or deliciously soap operatic about the betrayals and hurts in this book: that’s what makes them sting.

Courtney Summers’s Some Girls Are is a look at what mean girls are really like, what it REALLY takes to hang with the most popular and most ruthless girls in high school, the ones that make it impossible for their peers to sleep at night.  It is a raw, riveting, unforgettable look at what it means to suffer through high school hell and still have the courage and determination to not give up.  It’s an amazing book.

Regina is part of the clique that runs her school but after one party goes very wrong and she tells the wrong person about what happened, the group quickly turns on her.  Some Girls Are is the story of how Regina faces high school, and her own past sins, in the aftermath of this incident as her friends quickly go about making her life hell.

And make no mistakes: Regina has done wrong.  Kara, the girl in her group who betrays her, was previously humiliated and  ignored by Regina.  Interestingly, Summers suggests that Kara’s (serious) disordered eating was encouraged by Regina’s pressure.  (acting on behalf of Anna, the Queen of their clique.)

Everyone knows Kara used to be fat until the second half of tenth grade, when she learned to stick her fingers down her throat and started popping diet pills.  She had to wear a wig in her class photo because she was losing her hair; you can see it if you look really closely.  It was the pills or the purging.  And those were only suggestions, anyway.

It’s not like I told her she had to do that to herself. (pg. 28)

Wow.  This is an amazing passage that confronts the real-life consequences of all that supposedly harmless body snarking and constant peer pressure regarding weight and looks that happens all too frequently among teens.  Regina has other memories of how badly she treated Kara:

I stood next to her at Ford’s while she bought the over-the-counter diet pills.  And then, from that point on, I watched her melt.  It made Anna happy. (pg. 86)

Kara didn’t just “think she looked fat in these jeans!” – didn’t just say one or hear one negative thing about her weight: she realized that her standing in the group depended on how she looked and decided that standing was worth her health.  This happens more than we’d like to admit, as adults who work with teens, as adults who live in a culture that constantly tells us “just a few pounds more!” and it’s part of what I liked best about this book.

What I Love About This Book

The list could go on forever: The prose!  The characters!  The tension!  The messed up, compelling, utterly irresistible romance!  But, really, all of that comes down to one thing: IT TELLS THE TRUTH.

The truth, the truth I remember, is that high school can be a blood sport.  It was not a laughing matter.  The truth was that adults can look the other way, that the  people you think are your friends can turn on you in the blink of an eye if the “mood” goes against you, that all it takes is a few words to make someone’s life hell.  There’s no looking away from what happens to Regina OR what Regina, herself, did.

There are big questions with no easy answers in this narrative: Regina did terrible things (not the least of them how she pressures, shames, and guilts Kara when it comes to her weight) and now terrible things are being done to Regina.  What I love about this complication is that there’s not an easy answer to if this is fair…  it’s a question that doesn’t really have one answer, just the kind of question teens deserve to be asked more often.  (What else do I love?  Regina doesn’t remain a passive, helpless victim in this cycle: she remembers how the game is played and strikes back in anger and even physically.  Now the story is even more complicated: is it “right” or justified that she does this?  What are the consequences of this striking back?  Can this self-perpetuating cycle ever be broken?  Another big question!)

Summers makes everything happening to Regina feel so immediate, so helpless, so suffocating, that when Regina actually connects with someone else,  a boy named Michael she helped ostracize, their connection feels like a lifeline: urgent, confusing, and vital.  This makes their connection seem tangible and real and oh-so irresistible.  To me, this is 100x more dramatic than some 100 year old vampire.

Everything about this book feels so damn true.

Recommended for: All public libraries and all high school libraries, content and language make this definitely a high school level book.  Also recommended for reluctant readers and fans of realistic stories with a edge.

Comment for a Chance to WIN A COPY OF THIS BOOK!

I hope you can’t wait to read this book!  If you’ve already read it, I hope to hear your thoughts and opinions about it in the comments!   St. Martin’s Press generously provided me with this copy and my library already has a copy, so I’m going to use random.org to select a random winner from the comments.  It could be you!  And if you don’t win, why don’t you go into your local library today and see if they have a copy.  If they don’t, request they buy one.

As for me: I can’t wait to see what Courtney Summers writes next.

16 thoughts on “Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers,

  1. This book actually sounds really good. I normally wouldnt read this type of book, mainly because i am a fantasy junkie, but i actually think i would enjoy reading it. Great job with your review. I think it served its purpose.

  2. Apart from this book sounding awesome, I love how YOU write about it.
    When are you writing your own teen novel, woman? I’m sure it would be just as good, if not better.

  3. I wonder if this book is as awesome as “Cracked up to be” sounds 🙂 I’ve ordered that book and should be coming any day now. I am really looking forward to reading it, as i feel i can put myself in her shoes, as i’ve had quite a few problems over the last few years.

    You’ve made this book seem very interesing, and i am looking forward to reading it, once i’ve read “Cracked up to be” Just Reading the Blurb makes me just want to sit on the floor and start reading the book 😀 I am just a tad weird 😛 You’ve made a brilliant review.
    I have proberly talked to much on how i actually love Courtney Summers Books, but yeah Byebye 🙂

  4. I’ve read CRACKED UP TO BE Courtney’s last book. She has a great way of giving you characters that normally you would HATE and bring out some enduring quality that makes you stick with them. I love her sharp dialogue and terse way of writing too. SOME GIRLS ARE isn’t available at my library, but it’s on my reading list.

  5. This books is awesome! I totally LOVED it! I really need to read ‘Cracked Up to be’ since I want to see is it as awesome as ‘Some Girls Are’.

  6. Pingback: courtney summers » seeing the world (kinda)

  7. I love Courtney Summers. I loved Some Girls Are and I loved Cracked Up to Be. I would really love to own a copy of Some Girls Are but I’m just really glad to see other people spreading Courtney’s books around. She’s such an amazing voice and I really, really want her next book to be out. Thanks for posting about this book.

  8. Wow. I so love the way you’ve analysed the book. And you have no idea how much I want this.
    Love the look of your blog (and I’m gonna stick around here!). Got here from Courtney’s =D

  9. Hi! Came here via the tweet from Courtney – I’m absolutely dying to read Some Girls Are, I loved Cracked Up To Be. Is the giveaway international?

  10. Angie, thanks for what to buy! I will be checking into Courtney Summers for our section. Oh, and I’m with you on the 100 year vampire thing.

  11. I bought this book 2 days ago . I read the whole thing last night it was fantastic! Notice how all this go’s on at school but she comes home and has to act like every thing is okay , Even the mean girls fake that they are her friend in front of her mom. You never tell your parents what goes on it’s like an unspoken mutual agreement . And the teachers get paid to sit around and act like they give a shit all they care about is the school reputation each student is just one more chance to mess that up . Nobody gives a shit . They never will. This is what really goes on. This is my life.

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