THOSE GIRLS |Lauren Saft

Those Girls

Summary from Goodreads:

Some girls will always have your back, and some girls can’t help but stab you in it.

Junior year, the suburbs of Philadelphia. Alex, Mollie and Veronica are those girls: they’re the best of friends and the party girls of the school. But how well does everybody know them–and really, how well do they know one another? Alex is secretly in love with the boy next door and has joined a band–without telling anyone. Mollie suffers from a popular (and possibly sociopathic) boyfriend, as well as a serious mean streak. And Veronica just wants to be loved–literally, figuratively, physically….she’s not particular. Will this be the year that bonds them forever….or tears them apart for good?

Lauren Saft masterfully conveys what goes on in the mind of a teenage girl, and her debut novel is raw, honest, hilarious, and thought-provoking, with a healthy dose of heart.

It was not my first time to read a novel with unlikeable characters. My judgments with books with like this, however, tended to vary. Sometimes I would rate higher because of the engaging story despite the unlikeable charcter or the redemptive turnabout in the end, and there were times I would give a low rating because I was simply annoyed with the main character. It’s all a matter of personal preference, really, (and mood, sometimes) and my usual route would be to give a neutral rating, as was the case with this debut novel.

Those Girls is about best friends Alexandra Holbrook, Mollie Finn, and Veronica Collins. They are juniors in high school and they are the “it” girls — rich, popular, pretty. They are the same in many ways, but they are also so unlike in so many ways. The chapters were told in the alternating voices of the girls, which isn’t actually a new writing style, and would have contributed to a richer exploration of the character profiles, except that the girls tended to sound the same that I often got confused as to whose POV I was reading. Or maybe they were intended to sound the same because, well, they’re best friends and maybe the old adage was true — that saying about birds of the same feather flock together?

Anyway, I was prepared to like the girls. Or even just one of them. After all, isn’t this the point of creating unlikeable characters? To at least make them more sympathetic¬† and to give justifications for their meanness? And for a time I did felt sorry for them. They were doing things they shouldn’t be doing at their age — having sex, having abortions, taking drugs, drinking, smoking, cussing¬† — and all the time I was screaming inside my head. Where are the parents of these kids??? However, I got tired feeling sorry for them after quite a while. They’re almost adults and whatever they did was their own choice. They shouldn’t blame others for whatever mess they were in. I labored through their angst and complaints, praying that at the end, they would be able to find absolution. And they did, I hope. It was their “friendship” that “saved” them.

What I got from Those Girls was that any girl, at one time, felt insecure. Insecure of oneself, of one’s looks or talents, or even of one’s families. And this can happen even between supposedly close friends. What she does with these insecurities is entirely up to her and it takes some courage to own responsibility to own up to her mistakes.

Only that I don’t want my own daughter to read this kind of book while she’s a teen.

“And I understood where this twisted plan came from. I understood jealousy and pride and the idea of revenge — the notion that causing someone else pain would somehow soothe your own. Even if I knew it wasn’t true, I still understood the impulses.”

***

My Rating: 3/5 stars.

My copy: free ARC from NetGalley

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