Regina Afton stomped on toes and burned bridges as she climbed her way up the social ladder, trailing on the (Catholic-school-uniform) shirt tails of her best friend and leader of the Fearsome Fivesome, Anna Morrison.
The lone sober one at a party of drunk teens, Regina barely avoids being raped by Anna’s scummy boyfriend. She escapes to a friend’s house and receives some terrible advice.
It turns out this “friend” is anything but.
What happens next is a quick and painful fall down the social ladder, hitting every rung on the way down. Regina finds herself at the bottom – the worst place for a former mean girl in high school.
Remember the movie “Mean Girls?” Please say yes. If you say no, you really should run out and rent/borrow/buy it. Genius. Hilarity. Pure awesomesauce.
Remember how funny that movie was?
This book is about as painful to read as that was fun to watch.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s GOOD. I couldn’t put it down. I just hated turning the page. Regina repeatedly gets stomped on – by former friends, enemies, strangers and herself.
Maybe some readers will see this book as a raw lesson in bullying. I guess I could see it that way.
I saw it more as a lesson in standing up for yourself and doing it without using others to pull down as you scrabble your way into a standing position.
It made me think back to all the times I just let people say and do mean things to me – girls, mainly, but the boys had their fair share of the fun on my behalf. Some of the insults flung in my direction carried some merit – I was nerdy, awkward and kind of a teacher’s pet – but most of them were completely foolish works of uncreative fiction, said only to make the insult flinger look Cooler in the eyes of their peers. All of them were unprovoked.
So, of course, my logic said, if the Mean Kids said such Mean Things without any poking at the fire, what good would it do to poke back and/or to stand up for myself?
I just shrugged at the computer screen because I’m really not sure what I would have accomplished in regard to the Mean Kids. The fact is that kids aren’t really the most well-rounded thinkers. Kids like Anna Morrison will be mean to any and all until, like Regina found out, the tides turn and they realize what horrors they create.
In regard to myself, though, I wonder if standing up for myself on a regular basis would have helped me discover self confidence before, oh, age 19 or so. Yes. I lived approximately 19 years before I started to really like myself.
That’s sad, isn’t it?
There will always be bullies, and fighting back will usually only make things worse. The real answer, I think, lies within each person who is bullied. Bullies attack only what they know they can hurt. If I had believed in myself at a much younger age, they would have had to work that much harder to hurt me. Let’s be honest: Bullies get bored if they have to work too hard. I felt powerless against them, but I most likely had the power to avoid it all if I had only had some faith in myself.
Yes, I got all that from a YA novel. Who says YA novels are worthless fluff you eventually grow out of? I don’t know about you, but I still carry Teenage Jenny around with me every day, and books like these help me learn more about who I was, who I’ve become and who I want my future children to be.