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Life by Committee Hardcover – May 13, 2014

49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up—Tabitha has hit puberty, gaining new curves, and has gotten a little boy crazy. Her best friends, feeling she has changed too radically, have dropped her cold. Her young parents are sympathetic but also slightly embarrassing, especially her pot-smoking father. Searching for friendship, she stumbles onto an online community called Life by Committee that makes her feel brave and a part of something. LBC members share secrets and are given assignments by the group's leader, tasks they say will help one grow as a person. Tabitha's secret is that she kissed someone else's boyfriend. Her assignment is to kiss him again. The teen starts to wonder if performing these dares, even though they make her feel free-spirited, is any way to live her life. Haydu captures the wild emotions of adolescence: the surging hormones, the power of getting people to pay attention because of your body, and the confusion over how that makes you feel. The narrative includes plenty of current teen concerns: online safety, gay friends, first love and sexual experience, drugs, sibling jealousy, and school achievement pressure—all culminating in a final scene pulled straight from the movies. The message about being your own person and making your own choices can be a bit heavy-handed, but readers who are avidly involved in social media communities will relate to the thrill of confessing secrets to strangers, rather than friends and family.—Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CT

Review

“Looking for a book to read and discuss? This is it.” (Kirkus)

“Haydu captures the wild emotions of adolescence: the surging hormones, the power of getting people to pay attention because of your body, and the confusion over how that makes you feel….Readers who are avidly involved in social media communities will relate to the thrill of confessing secrets to strangers.” (School Library Journal)

“Haydu gets at the push-pull between wanting to keep and to divulge secrets, as well as the way that anatomy can feel like destiny.” (Publishers Weekly)

“An authentic, heartfelt read about the power of truth and the beauty of self-discovery.” (Sarah Ockler, author of #scandal and Twenty Boy Summer)

“Life by Committee is a fun, smart, and moving read with every delicious ingredient-romance, secrets, and unexpected twists. Assignment: Read this one.” (Deb Caletti, National Book Award Finalist and author of Honey, Baby, Sweetheart and The Last Forever)

“(Not so) Secret: I immediately fell in love with Corey Ann Haydu’s wonderful, fresh story about truth, love, and bravery. Your assignment: Read Life by Committee immediately!” (Elizabeth Eulberg, author of The Lonely Hearts Club and Better off Friends)

“This book is brilliant, thrumming with honesty and surprising truths.” (Terra Elan McVoy, author of Pure and The Summer of Firsts and Lasts)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (May 13, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062294059
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062294050
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,308,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Anna Schumacher on June 25, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Plot in a Sentence:
Suddenly being the “hot chick” in her small VT town isn’t making Tabitha any friends - but everything changes when she discovers an online community that tells her exactly how to live.

Why I Read It:
It takes place in a small town in Vermont. I was a teenager in a small town in Vermont. It sucked. Now I want to read about it.

Why It Rocked:
The Vermont-ness. Oh, man, did Haydu nail it. The cold, the isolation, the way everyone is sort of a hippie, the fact that the only things to do as a teenager are hang out in coffee shops, go snowboarding, or get high. I couldn’t have related more to Tabby’s sense of feeling trapped by the mountains and dreaming of a glamorous life in NYC and something bigger and better than her tiny town and little high school full of people she’s known forever. That was me. That was me SO HARD.

(At one point, a character name-drops the town next to mine. As the place to go to be a stoner. Hah. But also, true.)

The hot-girl-bullied-by-plain-girls theme was a refreshing, believable twist on the standard bullying trope. Being inside the hot girl’s head was fascinating (and excruciating): dealing with her insecurities, feeling the pain of missing not only her old friends but her old self. Tabitha really falls apart in this book. It’s hard to watch but impossible to put down.

Haydu also nails the experience of a life lived half-online and half-IRL. The way Tabitha tunes out the world to concentrate on LBC, the way she feels like these online strangers are her only real friends and events on the site spark her emotions throughout the day, reminded me so much of my old Livejournal days, when baring my soul online to strangers all over the world was the most important thing ever.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By OutlawPoet TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The premise of the book is interesting. There is an online community called Life By Committee. You go and tell a secret, big or small. The other members of the community discuss your secret and then you are given an assignment to do. If you don't do it, they will tell your secret. The problem is that you must continue to use the site, giving them more secrets and completing more assignments or they will reveal the secrets you've told them.

Secret: I didn't love the main character.

Tabitha was a petulant little thing. To me, she was a very unreliable main character. I never bought into her viewpoint on anything and in fact, I didn't like her very much. It was especially hard for me because I really did like the girlfriend of the boy Tabitha was crushing on - though I hated him. I never really wanted things to work out well for Tabitha.

Secret: I had no idea what would make people live Life by Committee

I couldn't even buy into the idea that a teenager would do everything she's told by some anonymous internet users. And if she would, I think that she's got deeper problems than boyfriend and friend issues.

Secret: I wouldn't read this book again.

My final decision is three stars on this one. While it isn't awful, it did feature an unlikeable main character and an unlikely plot. I spent much of the read frustrated and a bit confused by the decisions that just about every character made.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kat on June 23, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Before I start with my review of Life by Committee, there’s one important question to consider. Do you need to like the main character to enjoy a book, or can you overlook the likability factor for a unique storyline? Life by Committee is definitely in the latter camp, because although I found it very difficult to like Tabitha, I loved where Corey Ann Haydu went with the plot.

Tabitha is struggling with who she is and how her looks influence how people perceive her. It’s interesting to read from the perspective of a character who found herself becoming more attractive as she grows up, and being acutely aware of it. And Tabitha knows that’s what caused her friends to ditch her – and as a girl who was previously part of the more laid back group at school, she finds herself stuck in social limbo.

What I didn’t enjoy about Life by Committee is Tabitha’s obsession with Joe. Although she mentions several times the depths of their online communication, it didn’t feel like it was demonstrated enough to make me understand where she was coming from. I don’t even care so much that she didn’t really have a moral dilemma of kissing the boyfriend of another girl (because, let’s face it, some teenagers DON’T think about morality all that often), I just didn’t get why she was so obsessed.

Tabitha’s parents were so prominent in LBC, and the relationship was so complex and unusual that it was actually the highlight of the whole book for me – Haydu does something rather unique with them that brings a completely different dynamic to the story – as well as some additional drama.

I did love Tabitha’s obsession with books, and reading the notes written in second-hand books. On a complete aside, I’ve never bought a second-hand book with markups, but now it has me curious.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is kind of hard for me to write because I feel like in order for me to say that I "love" a book, I need to like the main character. To say that I hate the main character is an understatement. Now, putting that aside, it is a very well written story. I really enjoyed the plot and felt like the writing just flowed. I would recommend this to others for sure.
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