Before you get your BBC Book Review of the week you need to know (you *really* need to know!) that I'm up over at From the Write Angle blogging about those very special people in our lives. Betas.
Most of my followers undoubtedly realize that I tend to read Sci-Fi and Fantasy of varying degrees, magical realism, urban fantasy, steampunk - whatever YA feels like throwing itself at me in the moment. A contemporary title has to have something special to get my attention, a degree of realism and depth of character that I can relate to. WANT TO GO PRIVATE? by Sarah Darer Littman delivers on all these levels with a punch that leaves the reader contemplating going offline - forever.
So many contemporary books take the average teen and put them in situations to prove that they are anything but. I felt that WTGP did the opposite. Instead Littman chose an exemplary student - Abby, the highly intelligent yet socially unsure incoming high school freshman - and showed that the phrase "It Can't Happen To Me" isn't applicable to anyone.
Abby feels the pressure of being "the smart girl" the second that an attractive upper classmen asks if he can copy her homework in class. She complies, only to be swiftly overshadowed by the better-looking popular girl to his right. That same afternoon, she fails to follow alongside her longtime best-friend when she faints from stage-fright during play tryouts.
Her little sister is popular and cool, while Abby operates on the nerd side of society. Dad constantly works late. Mom has a career of her own and is divided between two children, a household, and a marriage that needs more time than it's getting.
So when Abby meets Luke in a teen chat room, she's starved for attention. He says all the right things, knows what she's thinking and asks how she's feeling. She's a smart girl who knows about the danger of online predators, but he seems to genuinely care about her. As their relationship deepens and her schoolwork suffers as she stays up late to talk with him, Abby questions her own actions. But he's in the computer - it's not like he can actually hurt her, right?
Until she goes private with him.
Until she turns on the webcam.
Until he sends her a cell phone.
Until she agrees to meet him.
Until she gets into his car.