Sarah's Stars

E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle. How to Be Bad
HarperTeen  $16.99  ISBN 978-0-06-128423-6  336 pg.
Reviewed by Lindsey, Age 14

"I'm not going to stop it. You need to do something about this bad thing that happened." People are looking at us. "Come on," I say. "Old Joe would hit me. Old Joe would want you to hit me."

"Sit down!" Her face is turning red.

"No!" People are actually pointing at us, but I don't care.


I'm yelling now. "I'm not sitting down! Stand up for yourself!"

And just when I don't expect, Mel stands up and hits me. She's little, so it's more like she punches up at my jaw from underneath, and my teeth bang together and my head jerks back and the sound of the punch rings through my head. I stumble backward, and bump into the empty table behind me, scattering silverware.

I look over at Mel and she's looking back at me with wide eyes. She covers her mouth and I think maybe she's going to cry-but then I see she's laughing, and I start to laugh too.

Three girls: Jesse, good Christian girl, Jesse whose mom just got diagnosed with cancer; Canadian Mel, the rich new girl in town who ditches working with her dad and beautiful sister to work at a dinghy diner in the hopes that maybe she might actually be able to make some friends; and Vicks, rebellious and crazy Vicks who's boyfriend is off in Miami at college. When Jesse randomly poses the idea of going on a road trip to Miami for Vicks, she never expects that Mel, the new girl will say she wants to go. Jesse is resentful of Mel at first, who does she think she is? But eventually she agrees to let Mel come along, if only because Mel is wealthy and spoiled and can pay for everything. Vicks finally agrees to come along as well and so, with barely a few hours notice the three jet out of Niceville and head off into the sunset for a crazy road trip across Florida where they will see many strange sights, make new friends (and reconcile with old ones), learn a lot about themselves and each other and make golden memories that will last a lifetime.

How to Be Bad was an incredibly enjoyable book. It's not really the type of novel I would have regularly picked up but I'm so glad I did. I can't remember the last time I read a book that drew me into the plot and the characters so deeply. I laughed out loud many times because there were many blink-and-you'll-miss-them moments of quirky humour and I shocked myself by actually getting a bit teary at some parts. The characters are all three-dimensional and well rounded and even though the story rotates through each girl's point of view, you can always tell who is speaking. Maybe it might be the fact that three authors with three different writing styles wrote the story but Mel, Vicks and Jesse still seemed to me to be individual and real. It was very easy to relate to some of the things they were going through. Their story is a universal girl-power adventure with three unique, raucous and in some spots, wise, characters. Reading How to Be Bad is like curling up with three new best friends. There were a few questionable situations and a bit of language so I wouldn't recommend it to anyone under the age of thirteen but as far as most teen lit books go, it's pretty clean.

I give How to Be Bad four and a half stars out of five.


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