Book Notes: American Girls

This is a new feature where I highlight a book for some reason. It’s just my opinion of a book I’ve been reading.

American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Life of Girls is the tale of contemporary girls and their love/hate relationship with social media. Author Nancy Jo Sales is a journalist who took a couple years to talk with girls, ages 13-19, about their use of social media.

The chapter on 13-year-old girls begins like this:

“Montclair, New Jersey
The boy sent the message in the middle of the day, when she was walking home from school. He sent it via direct message on Instagram, in the same shaky, childlike font as the new Drake album (“IF YOU’RE READING THIS ITS TOO LATE”)

Sophia stared at her phone.
“Wait What???” she responded.
No answer.”

It’s an example of what’s happening to girls as young as 13. Boys ask them via social media channels for nude photos. Sophia eventually asked the boy why he wanted the photo. She was starting to feel warm and mushy inside because maybe the boy really liked her and she just hadn’t known it. Surely, that was why he wanted her photo.

Turns out, the boy just wanted her photo to win a bet. And, if he passed it along to an older guy that he thought was a senior, he could get some “lq.” Liquor. Booze.

There was no love interest here, just playing around with social media to get what he needed. A photo to trade for some lq.

YA Writers, Listen Up! You MUST Read This Book

When I read this book, I was stunned! | you’re writing YA books, you really need to read this book. It tells the story of multiple girls from ages 13-19 and how the social media climate has affected their lives.

It’s a tale of double-standards: if a girl gives up a nude photo, she’s a slut, but the transaction says nothing about the boys.

It’s a tale of bullying and cyber-bullying: the use of social media, especially photos, has ruined many a teenage life. Read the range of problems this causes.

It’s a tale of fake-personas: girls are increasingly pressured to put up sexy selfies, even when they see themselves as something different.

Every decade or so, we need a book like this where a journalist goes out into the street to talk with kids today. How will these detailed stories affect your next novel?

One thought on “0

  1. A couple of years ago, a student wrote an article in a student-run publication out of and approved by Ithaca College that she and other female students on campus were operating as escorts (to use the polite term) and that the money they made paid their college expenses. (Ithaca is also setting of Cleaning Nabokov’s House.) So I wouldn’t be surprised at anything young people do these days.

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