I really enjoyed this book even though I felt on edge the entire time because I knew it was going to be a #metoo story. However, that didn’t stop me from getting immersed in the story. I’ve been anticipating this book since I stumbled upon Kelly Yang’s twitter for work. She was offering free online creative writing lessons for students while schools were closed. She’s amazing.
I’ve been really into reading #metoo stories–which sounds morbid, but I want to read how different authors are representing the trauma and process of dealing with sexual harassment and assault. I think this book does a great job of detailing the different ways sexual harassment and assault present themselves. It’s not always all of a sudden or from a stranger. I think Yang did a great job representing the situation, the trauma, and how these girls fought to regain their power in the ways that best suited them.
I think Claire and Dani are very relatable characters. I could really picture these two girls living together with such different backgrounds and desires. I liked how they lead separate lives but that they would intersect throughout the book. It allowed their individual stories to shine and made me long for them to be friends. I think the representation of Chinese students coming to America for high school was so interesting. Yang did a lot of research into this and it really shows itself in the story. I also think reading her author’s note is essential either before or after reading the book.
I also think Yang did a good job of showing the separation in class and how students are treated differently based on how much money they have and contribute to the school. How many people become collateral damage because it’s economically or socially a better to not stand up for them?
Now, in the Kirkus review of this book it was said that there are too many side plots. I disagree. Although it adds to the length and the larger plot at times gets pushed to the back, I think it’s important to show that even side characters are the main characters of their stories and are dealing with their own issues.
I think Yang did a great job with that. It reminded me of The Hate U Give and how Thomas shows that everyone in Starr’s life is dealing with something even if we don’t read from their POV. I think it made the world and the girls’ lives feel authentic.
Overall, I think we all should be reading this book because of the representation it provides in so many areas that are so valuable to readers whether they can relate or not.