Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Banned Books Week Challenge ttyl by Lauren Myracle

Audacious author Lauren Myracle accomplishes something of a literary miracle in her second young-adult novel, ttyl (Internet instant messaging shorthand for "talk to you later"), as she crafts an epistolary novel entirely out of IM transcripts between three high-school girls.

Far from being precious, the format proves perfect for accurately capturing the sweet histrionics and intimate intricacies of teenage girls. Grownups (and even teenage boys) might feel as if they've intercepted a raw feed from Girl Secret Headquarters, as the book's three protagonists--identified by their screen names "SnowAngel," "zoegirl," and "mad maddie"--tough their way through a rough-and-tumble time in high school. Conversations range from the predictable (clothes, the delicate high-school popularity ecosystem, boys, boys in French class, boys in Old Navy commercials, etc.) to the the jarringly explicit (the girls discuss female ejaculation: "some girls really do, tho. i read it in our bodies, ourselves") and the unintentionally hilarious (Maddie's IM reduction of the Christian poem "Footprints"--"oh, no, my son. no, no, no. i was carrying u, don't u c?").

But Myracle's triumph in ttyl comes in leveraging the language-stretching idiom of e-mail, text messaging, and IM. Reaching to express themselves, the girls communicate almost as much through punctuation and syntactical quirks as with words: "SnowAngel: 'cuz--drumroll, please--ROB TYLER is in my french class!!! *breathes deeply, with hand to throbbing bosom* on friday we have to do "une dialogue" together. i get to ask for a bite of his hot dog.'"

Myracle already proved her command of teenage girl-ness with Kissing Kate, but the self-imposed convention of ttyl allows a subtlety that is even more brilliant. Parents might like reading the book just to quantify how out of touch they are, but teens will love the winning, satisfyingly dramatic tale of this tumultuous trio. (Ages 13 to 17) --Paul Hughes(Taken from Good Reads)

My review contains slight spoilers*towards the very end.

I thought it would be hard to read this book because it would be written in text language, but it was simple.  I saw the objectionable parts, but in actuality they were learning opportunities.  The story begins with an overly happy Snow Angel dispersing daisies to both Mad Maddie and Zoe Girl.  I don't think a more unlikely trio could be found than these three.  Snow Angel/Angela is all about clothes, makeup and boys.  She is vivacious and eternally happy.  Mad Maddie/Madigan is no nonsense tough and tomboy all the way.  She dresses tough and nobody messes with her. And Zoe Girl/Zoey is reserved, perfect, quiet, the voice of reason and a blend in the crowd kind of dresser.  In any case, they've all 3 been BFFs since seventh grade.

The beginning of tenth grade is a beginning of changes for all of them.  Angela falls fast and hard for a  boy she dates for a week and then stalks him when he decides he likes another girl.  It shakes her confidence and she can't seem to let go of him.  Her friends are ready to pick up the pieces when she's crushed, but they aren't ready for how she reacts and don't listen to their advice telling her it's over.

Maddie becomes friends with the teen queen Jana who she couldn't stand just days earlier and starts ditching her friends for Jana.  Angela cannot understand and Zoey tried so keep the peace between the two.  Maddie continually defends her friendship with Jana and she and Angela grow further and further apart.  In the meantime though, Maddie is telling Zoey things she tells her not to tell Angela and telling Angela things not to tell Zoey.

And then there is Zoey and Mr. H.  He's invited her to Young Life on Friday mornings which she attends and enjoys.  He picks her up at her house and takes her to the meetings.  Then he asks her to church.  She attends and enjoys it.  And then it's bingo at his mother's nursing home.  All the time she's convincing herself that it's all innocent while Angela is telling her it isn't and Maddie is just making fun of the religious part of it.  Zoey isn't sure what it is.

Then Halloween night, something happens to Maddie that changes everything and tests their friendship to its boundaries.  Will it survive and will they be there for each other when another one of the trio needs their support and rescue?

As far as banning the book, the worst of it was mentioned in the summary.  The other scenarios showed what can happen when you drink alcohol and the other cautions about student/teacher relationships.  I think Lauren Myracle handled both very well and the characters she chose to deal with those were the right ones.  It was a great book and I can't wait to read the others.  I definitely think this is for the 14 and up crowd but it's very timely especially with how readily available alcohol is to kids these days and more and more teacher/student relationships are being reported, whether consensual or not.  Myracle shows the manipulation that can happen and how all of a sudden you're stuck or trapped into a situation you can't believe you're in. 

Heather in Sandwich


  1. Thanks for your imput into this topic, it's been fascinating reading so many bloggers opinions. I also have a post about a banned book (Speak) on my blog which gives you the chance to get hold of a copy of the book thanks to one of my blogger buddies.

  2. Thanks for following me. I have now discovered another great book blog. I look forward to more of your reviews. I am now following you.


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