Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Review: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
Title: Some Girls Are
Author: Courtney Summers
Rating: 4 Stars
Courtney Summers is the type of author who makes her novels feel physically real. For me, reading a book by her is more than just feeling the book, the crisp pages beneath my fingers or the soft paperback in my palms; it's about that slow pressure that builds in my head, pounding in tension, and that ulcer-like knot in my stomach, stealing the breath out from me. It isn't a pleasant feeling, but I almost crave it, for the moment I crack open the spine of one of these books, I can't put the book down. I just can't. It's psychologically frightening, but so are these books. And I love them for that.
Some Girls Are follows the story of Regina, a former mean girl. Seriously, Regina is that girl who stood there and watched you get bullied. She's the one who made you feel inferior, whose voice would linger in your mind as doubts, whose face inspired fear. Granted, she's not the ring leader - that's Anna - but as the puppy dog, she's even worse. Our story begins, however, with a rape. Regina's rape. By Anna's boyfriend. And then a broken confession of this torn night to an enemy. An enemy who tells Regina to go home, to act as if nothing happened, but when Regina walks into school on Monday, the word is out: Regina slept with Anna's boyfriend. And Anna is out for revenge because, as a mean girl, revenge is what she does best.
If you're not a fan of books that make you squirm with discomfort or force your fist to your mouth so you won't scream of horror, pain, and disbelief, then don't pick this one up. Summers always writes novels that explore the darker side of humanity, but this is probably the toughest to get through. Regina deserves to be ostracized, to be taken down, to be laughed at, but she didn't deserve to get raped. It is here that we enter into a realm of gray area because, honestly, the only action that justifies that Regina isn't wholly bad is the fact that she is a victim of rape. If you're waiting for a hidden side to Regina, you'll only keep waiting. Sure, she didn't want to terrorize others and follow Anna's orders, but the very fact that she did makes her bad enough. And yet, as is always the classic case with any Summers novel, she makes us like, feel, and sympathize with her unconvential heroines. I wasn't entirely sold on the path Summers took with this, but by the end, it all came together perfectly with an ambiguous ending that was just the right amount of relief, punch, and puzzlement.
And yet, that isn't to say this novel is perfect. I felt there was a sincere lack of parent interaction, not to mention the teachers in this school turn a convenient blind eye to everything. Honestly, the full impact of this book can only be felt with a solid suspension of belief. And, in some ways, I am willing to concede this point. Some Girls Are explores the twisted nature of the human mind, not so much in Regina's past, but rather in her present inability to let go and mount revenge instead. I love this book for all the ambiguity present in it, from Regina to Michael, her only friend. With the two of them, there is an unlikely friendship - unlikely because Regina made his life hell too; forced him to become a loner and ostracized him. And despite the strangeness of their relationship, the almost unhealthy quality to it, it was one of my favorite aspects of the story merely because it was so nuanced, so raw, so real and gutting. As is everything in this book. Every line, every sentence...it's all aimed to dig that knife deeper into your heart. It seems like I'm exaggerating, but that left over feeling of numbness and disbelief and rage and relief and heartache that comes with the end of this novel speaks for itself.
Some Girls Are is a novel I would not hesitate to recommend, but only because I'm a masochist. I love the shocking feeling Summers's novels give me. I love being terrified to open the covers; I love that feeling when I can feel my sanity ebbing away as I become more and more immersed in the lives of these oh-so-real characters; I love the numbness every time I force myself not to set the book down, not to scream, not to shout; and most of all, I love that at the end, I am so, so blown away. And an emotional wreck, but that's irrelevant compared to the sheer scope of the novel itself. If you're looking for anything like that, for a book that can make you feel - make you live - that much, then look no farther than Courtney Summers. You simply cannot go wrong with her.