Monday, July 12, 2010

Book review - Harsh Pink & a CONTEST for charity!

I've gotten a lot of feedback that folks are really diggin the book reviews I've posted, so I'll keep those going periodically as I finish books you (or your kids) might find interesting.

(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*~

**CONTEST! It's ON! If you're a writer, you don't want to miss this one--win a phone call w/an agent, page critiques, and more. If you're not a writer, there's free books and other prizes galore!

And by participating, you'll be helping establish communities and provide clean water to people in Ghana through Joy 2 the World. Check it out at this link: Candyland contest. It's fun and easy to enter. Contest ends July 31~


Ex-pat Odessa said...

I was the one targeted - school was not great for me as a kid - do you remember my whining to your mom about Mary Tranchina? Your mom was like "She's a sweet girl", all cuz your brother was friends with her brother! GAG!

MIddle School was HELL for me, high school got better when I just made them all think I was crazy and would beat the crap out of their skinny cheerleader behinds!

But I have the same fears you have with your oldest. Kelly is like Katie, I was like that as a small child - just wanted to be accepted and fit in.
Isabel - she could care less, if you wanna play, and play her way - awesomeness, if not - meh! your loss!

Can we stun their ages here, or skip straight through to adulthood????

Hart Johnson said...

Sounds like a great angle for a book, because I think that is a far more frequent position for girls to find themselves in. There are a couple bullies, a couple 'leaders' and a lot of complacent people who let it play out--GREAT to get girls thinking about the events from that perspective.

My daughter is 15 and I've been SO PROUD of her a number of times because while she is popular with friends, she has zero tolerance for picking on, and has even jumped in and told off people she likes when they are picking on people she doesn't. Girls can be TERRIBLE (the odd man out thing is powerful)--and doing that can call the meanness down on you (she's been there)--but a varied group of friends is protective there. Good luck traversing it!

LTM said...

@Odie--was that Phil's sister? I do remember that. :o| And I remember you having a hard time, but you were dealing with a lot of *stuff* at home. Those scars can stick, which is why I fret.

@Hart--good daughter! :o) And no joke, about the terribleness. I saw this dynamic more in the early grades than in HS, but it still went on. Bluh. :o|

In the book, Carlson has the JV captain as having zero tolerance, and she becomes the target. MC is the complacent one, but you don't hate her--she's also the new kid at school, which amplifies her feelings of insecurity.

The book's well done, IMO~

Candyland said...

Thanks for the plug:)

Will get started on your work as soon as i get a

LTM said...

You bet, C--great cause & contest! And thank YOU for the help~ :o)

Ex-pat Odessa said...

@Hart, I hope that all my kids turn out like your daughter - what did you do???

@LTM - yeah had a bunch of stuff at home going on, but the main reason I got picked on was because of the lack of monetary funds I had, or rather didn't have. I wore hand-me downs, and lived in let's face it, and over-sized building block!

I find it strange that even as early as 2nd and 3rd grade, kids figure out who is rich and who isn't.

On the upside I found out after I finished school the reason the girls were mean to me - they were jealous of me, cause some of the guys that they liked liked me.

Bobie knew what she was talkin' bout after all! ;o)

LTM said...

@Odie: you're right. It starts very, very early.

I've been thinking about something I observed recently:

One kid says proudly: My mom doesn't let me watch Y7-rated TV shows.

Another kid says ashamedly: My mom doesn't let me watch Y7-rated TV shows...

The answer's in there~ ;o)

Ex-pat Odessa said...

Now, how to get your kids to be like the one who says it proudly?!?

Tricky, very tricky!