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Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

March 11, 2010

Courtney Summers’ debut novel Cracked Up to Be won a Cybils Award last month, and I think Some Girls Are is an even better book.

Regina was one of the popular girls at school. They were popular not because people liked Regina and her friends, but because everyone was afraid of them. Regina has done her share of mean girl acts, but now, she’s the target, dropped by her friends, isolated, and bullied.

It might be going too far to say that Summers takes an unlikable protagonist and makes her sympathetic, but in both Cracked Up to Be and Some Girls Are (the books are not connected), she definitely humanizes two girls who have done unquestionably cruel things. She gives them a sort of charisma or something that makes it impossible for me to stop reading about them. I needed to find out what would happen, or did happen, regardless of the protagonists previous actions and the visceral intensity of the stories. These are not fun, enjoyable stories, but painful and perhaps cathartic ones.

The key, in Some Girls Are, is how Summers demonstrates that Regina was uncomfortable with many of the things she did in order to maintain her place in the high school hierarchy. It doesn’t excuse Regina by any means, but Summers strings together the kinds of details and puts her in a situation that combine to turn her into a dimensional character, one who is both unlikable and understandable.

As I read, I was also unsure where Summers would take the story next. Part of what makes Regina compelling is that she is portrayed as someone who is not irredeemable. But what is a fitting resolution for a character like her? I didn’t know what I wanted to happen to Regina, only that she had done some horrible things but still didn’t deserve what her former friends were doing to her.

At the end of Some Girls Are, I still didn’t like Regina, it’s difficult to say I was rooting for her (or to define precisely what “rooting for her” translates to in terms of how the story could be resolved), and I’m not sure how I feel about the relationship with Michael, but I could not put the book down.

I’m adding this to my favorite books of 2010.

Book source: public library.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. March 11, 2010 12:24 pm

    Humanizes. That’s exactly it! Like you, I didn’t come away liking Regina all that much but I certainly understood her better and could even kind of grasp at the choices she had made. Very well thought out review.

  2. March 11, 2010 1:38 pm

    Well, it’s going on my list now. Books you couldn’t put down are worth it.

  3. March 11, 2010 8:02 pm

    I’m looking forward to reading this one and CRACKED UP TO BE. My reading pile just keeps growing… Thanks for the insightful review!

  4. March 12, 2010 2:03 am

    HUH. Officially intrigued now.


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