Review: The List

The List by Siobhan Vivian
Release Date ~ April 1, 2012
Push ~ Scholastic
ISBN13: 9780545169172
Review copy received from Scholastic Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
An intense look at the rules of high school attraction -- and the price that's paid for them.

It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.

This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.

The List is an intimate look into the lives and minds of a group of teenage girls - each of them brings their own unique story and each have a different ending. To me, this book felt less like a journey (with a plot and clear story to tell) and more like an experience of juxtaposing these 8 stories.

This is a particularly effective method to accomplish what I believe Siobhan Vivian is trying to do with the List, which is to highlight the struggles of a group of characters who are very different from each other. This is a book with a strong message, and I would highly recommend for readers who appreciate that type of story.

  1. Effective multiple narrators:

    Narration with multiple perspectives can be pretty hit or miss for me, but I found it to be a particularly effective tool in The List. The multiple perspectives works well here because the reader is given a broader understanding of the 8 girls and their relationships with each other. The similarities and differences between the characters were striking. It was fascinating to discover this, especially while the girls themselves had yet to recognize their similarities.
  2. A hard topic handled perfectly:

    To me, The List is definitely an "issue book" because there is a strong message within the story. However, the message didn't come across as preachy or pushy, which is a delicate balance to strike. It's very much present, and the ending leaves the reader with a few questions to ponder. Each of the girls has her own personal, unique ending - one that is suited to her character. This is important because it made the story feel very real - both endearing and heartbreaking, and even optimistic for some of the girls. But not all. 
A drawback from these two positive features is that the story largely feels unfinished. The book is simply too short to adequately wrap up the story of all 8 girls, and because of the sheer number of characters they don't get much page-time or development. Which is why I said that this didn't feel like a story as much as it felt like an experience or a portion of a journey.

The List is a book that I think would make a great starting point for discussions with younger girls - perhaps pre-teens or teenagers. It could be a really great book club pick because there's so much to talk about here (or even for a mother/daughter read). And it works really well for that - as for enjoyment purposes, the story lacked the development I prefer to read about in books.

1 comment:

Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

I remember when this book first came out, I wasn't really sure if it was for me. It sounds like a great story for discussion, but I'm disappointed to hear that it feels unfinished. I still don't think this is something that I would absolutely love. Great review!

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