Saturday, September 10, 2011

Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman

Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman takes an important teen issue in a horrifying and memorable way. At the core, it's Abby's story. Abby is a teenage girl who should be excited about starting high school, but with an increasingly distant best friend and a difficult time fitting in, the only place she feels truly appreciated is online, talking to Luke. Sure, Abby hasn't met Luke, not in person anyway, but from talking online she feels like they really know each other. Luke tells Abby how special she is and even sends her a phone so they can talk to each other in secret. With nothing else going according to plan, when Luke suggests him and Abby meet for a weekend away it seems like a great idea- until Abby goes missing and everyone is left trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find Abby before it's too late.

The feelings that Littman deals with in Want to Go Private? are ones that most teens face; loneliness, wanting to belong; and although Abby's story is horrible, it's not nearly as unique as we would like to believe. The novel clearly shows the persuasion an online predator can have over a teen, even an intelligent one who has heard all the horror stories in the past but believes that her situation is different. Still, Abby is seduced by Luke's sweet words, by the way he is always on his side, telling her what she wants to hear when she fights with her best friend or family. Littman is bold in her discussion of this important issue, she doesn't shy away from the ugly details and disgusting situations that present. She shows have these predators "groom" the young people they are trying to seduce and the danger of what can happen, the way things go so terribly wrong for Abby, serve as a memorable warning for others.

Although Want to Go Private? is an important book for teens, I think it's definitely one parents should read as well and discuss with their daughters. Portions of the book are quite graphic and disgusting, but it is exactly the kind of disgust that such a situation should provoke and I applaud Littman for putting every disturbing detail out there. The only aspect of the storyline I didn't really appreciate was the history that Littman gave Luke as an "explanation" for what he did; it seemed like a lazy explanation of evil, a sort of cop-out for what Luke did so that people should feel a bit sorry for him. There is no excuse for Luke's actions, no matter how horrible his history, and although this may have been Littman's attempt to bring more humanity to the character, he wasn't a character I was interested in having any compassion for.

Want to Go Private? is a well-written book, but it's not one that you read for enjoyment- it's too horrifying for that- rather it is a novel that sticks with you, crawls under your skin, a story you probably won't want to read a second time but which you certainly won't forget.

Release Date: August 1st, 2011
Pages: 336
Source: ARC From Publisher
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