Friday, September 14, 2012

The List

The List by Siobhan Vivian
4/5 stars
Push, 2012
332 pages
YA Contemporary

Source: Picked up for review from the library.

I think Vivian has done an excellent thoughtful job of examining the life of young woman, the pressures, the feelings, etc. such as in her book Not That Kind of Girl and after seeing several rave reviews of this book, I was excited to give it a read although I was worried about juggling the eight (!) girls it follows.

Those worries were not unwarranted as I didn't feel like we really got enough insight into them. There are eight girls and 332 pages, which means that each girl only gets about forty pages and it didn't even seem like each got the same amount of page-time. Fortunately I was able to keep referring to the front inside cover, which listed the girls as well as their basic conflict upon being placed on the list as either the prettiest or the ugliest grade in their respective grade.

As is my wont, I ended up being most drawn to the stories that featured sister-sister relationships; prettiest freshman Abby and prettiest Bridget find themselves struggling with their role on the list and how it impacts their relationship with their sister who did not make the list. Abby and her older sister Fern definitely had some moments that made me reflect on my relationship with my younger sister.

But I think my favorite storyline was Danielle, who is anointed ugliest freshman and derided as manly. See Danielle swims and has an athletic body with muscles; she's good enough to make varsity. However this body shape makes her feel less than when compared to the typical body shape that seems to be prized in contemporary American society. These feelings are compounded by her insecure boyfriend who can't take the teasing from his stupid friends. But happily Danielle makes more friends with other swimmers and appreciates all that her body can do.

Another interesting plotline was that of seniors Jennifer and Margo (labeled ugliest and prettiest respectively) who are former friends. There were some twists and turns I didn't predict and a few shocking moments. This storyline did not turn out the way I expected and I appreciated the surprises that Vivian was able to pack in here.

Overall: A slightly overstuffed book but still a very appealing one that tackles life as a female in amid the craziness of an American high school.

Cover: I really like the color of the lockers behind the students although I wonder if eight could have fit to represent how many are focused on in the book.


  1. This list makes me think of the one they had on the show Glee. Do you watch that? It was like one episode. hah

    anyway, i love the premise and it sounds like some of the girls had really interesting storylines, but 8 is a lot. sorry it wasn't fleshed out enough. This makes me think of a book with interconnecting short stories, actually.

  2. Danielle's story was my favorite too. I just think there was too many characters to fit in the book--I never really felt like any one character got all the page time needed to really flesh them out as characters. I do think it was an interesting approach to tackling teen issues though. Great review!

  3. A friend of mine sent me this book to read as she had two copies and I haven't had a chance to read it yet. I had some idea what it was about, but your review makes it more clear that it isn't just about being popular or not. God, sometimes you couldn't pay me enough to be in high school again! Great review! This is the same author that wrote Burn for Burn with Jenny Han isn't it? I was wondering what she had written.


  4. The List is on my list of books to read. I really am interesting in it. I'm glad to hear that eight characters weren't too much for the story. I was worried about that too. I can't wait to read this book.

  5. The premise does sound good but though I checked this out from the library earlier this year I never got around to finishing it. It is too bad that there are so many characters to keep track of. I may have to give this book another chance someday.

  6. This does sounds like it will be great to read. Thank you for sharing it and for the awesome review.

  7. I started reading this book a while back at the library and I never got around to finishing it. Maybe I should get on that soon. I really like the cover as well, especially the girl's curly hair!

    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian


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