Monday, May 6, 2013

Review: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers Some Girls Are
By Courtney Summers
St. Martin’s Griffin

To Sum It Up:

As a member of Hallowell High’s Fearsome Fivesome, Regina Afton counts herself among the social elite. Her world comes crashing down, though, when she becomes the subject of malicious gossip following an incident at a party. No one in Regina’s former circle of friends believes what really happened to her that night. Instead they embark on a campaign to not only make her the school pariah but also to bully her. The sole lunch table at school where Regina has a chance of finding a place to sit at is occupied by Michael Hayden, another social outcast. This isn’t a simple case of bonding with someone who knows what it feels like to be frozen out, though, since Regina is the one who engineered Michael’s ostracism.


I had a difficult time getting into Courtney Summers’s zombie novel, This Is Not a Test, but I’d seen a lot of praise for her contemporary books, so I figured I’d give one a go. I spotted Some Girls Are at the library and picked it up. While I did find this much more absorbing to read than This Is Not a Test, it wasn’t without its issues.

One of the biggest problems I had was with how Regina’s parents conveniently worked long hours plus had a long commute, so they were often not around. They are utterly clueless about what’s going in their daughter’s life. She was dating the school drug dealer, for heaven’s sake! I wanted to slam my head on a desk when Regina’s mother told her to have a good time at Josh’s party (Josh being said drug dealer, and not even Regina’s boyfriend anymore at this point in the novel). I realize that with today’s busy lives, it’s tough for families to find time for the traditional sit-down meal where everyone shares their day. From the sound of how hard Regina was partying, though, you’d think that a parent would have, just once, noticed she was hung over or something. Regina’s also been in therapy and is constantly popping antacids, her stomach problems the effect of some of her past misdeeds weighing on her. You’d think that her parents would keep a closer eye on her. Er, not really. Regina’s view of her mother and father as useless annoyed me, too. This family seemed like total strangers to one another, and that really, really bothered me.

While reading Some Girls Are, I couldn’t help thinking of Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall, another novel about a clique of mean girls. Before I Fall gave you some insight into the girls’ lives outside of the clique, and although stopping short of making excuses for their behavior, at least you got a possible idea of why they acted as they did. Not so much with the bunch from Some Girls Are. You’re pretty much left on your own to figure out what makes these girls, particularly Anna and Kara, the most aggressive of the group, take so much pleasure in hurting others, both physically and psychologically. I need more backstory to a bad guy/girl, and there’s virtually none here.

As for Regina, I didn’t hate her, though she was far from a likable protagonist. It was only yesterday that she, too, enjoyed making other people’s lives miserable, and of course it’s different now that she’s the target of the Fearsome Foursome’s malice. I think Regina does grow throughout the novel, though, and in a way that doesn’t come off too much like an afterschool special.

I’m really struggling to rate this one. On the one hand, Some Girls Are is a compelling, intense read with some finely crafted storytelling. On the other, the plot boils down to the bullying; it’s one incident after another after another, and you don’t get a sense of why these girls are beyond hateful other than because they can be. I like Courtney Summers’s writing a lot; I think that I just haven’t yet found the right Courtney Summers book for me, but I’m going to keep searching.

All in All:

Some Girls Are is a powerful novel about bullying that can be extremely tough to read at times. I do wish that Regina’s parents had been more involved, and that the book had spent some time looking at what fueled the characters’ love of hate, including Regina’s.


  1. Hmms might be a pass for me but sounds like a good read!

    1. The story was riveting, but the characters ended up being too one-note without a look into why they did what they did.

  2. I'm so keen to read this as it deals with such relevant issues. And yes, YA often features absent parents, I suppose it's realistic in some cases but most parents would take a bit more interest in their kids' lives

    1. I've read so many YA books in which one or both parents aren't around that it's become somewhat of a rarity to encounter strong parent/child relationships. If you get to read this, I'd love to hear what you think of it.

  3. I've heard mixed things about this book, but I'm still intrigued by it. Bullying is an issue I've always been concerned with, and I like seeing how various authors handle it in their books. Perhaps I may give this one a try eventually.

    1. Where the realism in this book fell short for me was how no one at home or school ever noticed Regina had a very, very serious problem. The girls and their lackeys got away with behavior that I really don't think would go unobserved, and certainly wouldn't be tolerated, in a school in real life.

  4. So this is totally my least favorite Courtney Summers novel. I kind of wanted to throw my copy in the trash once I read the last page, to be honest. The whole Disappearing Parent Syndrom was BEYOND aggravating. And I hated how NONE of the bullying would have happened to Regina if she’d just told an adult, any adult. And then she never did tell. Whyyyyyy? This book make no sense at all. I do think Courtney Summers is a fantastic author, though. Even if I didn’t agree with her plot choices, the book itself is wonderfully written.

    But Regina was an idiot. Sigh.

    1. I didn't get why Regina didn't say anything, either. The worst moment for me was when her mother went up to the school to see the principal about Regina cutting class (of all things), and the girls started with Regina as soon as her mother had gone out of sight. AARGH!


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