Review: Good Girls by Laura Ruby

Good GirlsPublisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 304 (paperback)
Release Date: 1 September 2006
Source: Library.
Rating:4 out of 5 stars.

Blurb (from Goodreads.com)

Audrey Porter is a “good girl”: a good student, a great daughter, an amazing friend. She’s also the last person anyone expects to be hanging out with Luke DeSalvio, the hottest guy at Audrey’s school. But Luke is a liar, a player, a dream, and Audrey knows it. She dumps him at her friend’s Halloween party with no intention of looking back, but not before giving him one last goodbye gift…

The next Monday, messages begin popping up on people’s phones and email inboxes. Somebody has taken a picture of her and Luke together and soon everyone knows, including her teachers, her mum and her dad… Now she must discover strength she never knew he had, find friends where she didn’t think she would, and learn that life goes on – no matter how different it is to how you think it’s going to be.

Review (full review posted on Goodreads.com)

When someone takes a photo of Audrey, the school’s resident ‘good girl’ – otherwise known as a spock, swot, or general nerd – in a compromising position with a boy at a party and spreads it around her school, Audrey has to deal with the fallout of a tarnished reputation, a broken relationship with the boy in question, the friendships of other ‘good’ and ‘bad’ girls, and her parents.

And the biggest question is, who took the photo and destroyed her reputation? Was is a friend of the boy? Was it Audrey’s ex-boyfriend, the guy who couldn’t handle being dumped? Was it another girl jealous that Audrey was casually ‘hooking up’ with the hottest guy in the school?

It doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable issues. The scene with the doctor had me cringing. The reactions of almost everyone in the novel is completely horrible – most of the boys decide Audrey’s easy and will want to have sex with them, the teachers who found out disapprove and think they’re ‘warning’ her the behaviour wasn’t ‘appropriate’ for a girl of her intellect, and the girls of the school turn into complete bitches. This is slut shaming from the point of view of the slut. And we all know that slut shaming in YA books is wrong and quite often misjudged.

Which is why I think a few specific people will like this book, because Audrey’s still a good girl. She still goes to church (and to all honesty, normally I’m against using religion in YA novels but in this instance it works), she still studies hard, and she still works on her relationship with her parents. She also has hobbies – notably the school plays where she’s in charge of the stage design.

But of course nothing is ever black and white. This novels explores the shades of grey of sluts and slut shaming and good girls. And I use the term slut ironically. Why do girls get called sluts and boys get called players? Why is a girl having sex a slut and a boy having sex a god? Why is a bad boy really a good boy, and a good boy is a pansy or a mama’s boy?

Audrey’s a realistic portrayal of a teenager, even if she’s a little too perfect. I knew a girl like her at my high school who changed schools when something like this happened over the summer holidays. And the teenage voice in this book is spot on.

I think it’d be an accessible read for adults who enjoy reading YA books as well as a great book for the YA crowd. My version of the book had a parental advisory warning on it for mature content, so if a mother is thinking of giving this to her daughter, maybe she should read it first. I’d be more than happy to give this to a fourteen year old.

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