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September Girls Hardcover – May 21, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up-Before the school year is even completely over, Sam's dad quits his job and takes the 17-year-old and his older brother, who's home from college, to a sleepy Outer Banks beach town for the summer. Sam's mom left abruptly months earlier and the three are still reeling from her sudden departure. Ensconced in a rundown rental, the boys spend the summer partying, swimming, and trying to get to know the beautiful, blond, ephemeral-looking girls who seem to be everywhere in town. There's something odd about them; for one thing they can't take their eyes off Sam-which is not a problem he's used to. It turns out that he holds the key to unlocking the curse that has been cast upon the lovely young women. Well, he can help one of them at least. Legends of mermaids, magic, and curses coupled with teenage lust and in-your-face raunchy lingo (including myriad derogatory references to girls and sexual innuendos) make this a unique attempt to combine seemingly disparate elements. This novel is Hans Christian Andersen's "Little Mermaid" meets modern teenage angst. Sam's voice rings true and is quite compelling as he copes with his mother's abandonment and his first forays into love. A fairy tale for a decidedly older audience.-Ragan O'Malley, Saint Ann's School, Brooklyn, NYα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Last winter, Sam’s mother ran away into “something called Women’s Land,” leaving his father first catatonic, then weirdly proactive and involved in Sam’s life. When Sam’s brother returns from college, their father takes them to a beach town that appears to be run by beautiful blonde young women, whose accents are unplaceable and exotic. These Girls (with a capital G) seem bound by unknowable rules. Out of all these mysterious women, Sam finds DeeDee, who, like him, understands betrayal and parental abandonment but on a level that even he can’t fathom. Split between Sam’s observations of the events and passages from the Girls’ collective attempts to explain their dramatic and confused origin (“First we are alone. We’re not sure how we find one another, but we do. Then we are still alone, but in the way sardines are alone.”), Madison’s novel offers up a feast of mythology and human nature. The author nimbly exercises Sam’s running-monologue narration, with raunchy, sarcastic sentences and oddly vulnerable bro-speak weave with ethereal, spellbinding descriptions of love, scenery, or epiphany. This command of language, both informal and beautiful, lifts the work from a basic boy-meets-fantastical creature tale to something both familiar and tragically moving. This isn’t just a supernatural beach read; it’s a rare and lovely novel, deserving of attention from discriminating readers. Grades 9-12. --Courtney Jones

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen (May 21, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061255637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061255632
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #945,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bennett Madison grew up in suburban Maryland, where he spent most of his youth skipping class and not doing his homework. He attended Sarah Lawrence College, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he writes the Lulu Dark series.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly C on July 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
After his mother leaves, Sam is dragged to the beach by his father and his older brother Jeff. There, he encounters the Girls, numerous beautiful teenage girls who flock to him like mysterious creatures. Sam doesn't understand them- his brother's new girlfriend Kristle, his new friend DeeDee. But there is something magical about these girls. And something dangerous and lonely.

September Girls follows the story of Sam and his summer at the mysterious beach where he meets the Girls. Not one girl, not five girls. Many many girls. All beautiful, lovely, glorious and eh-hem, blond. And they are all after Sam.

There have been many mixed reviews posted so far and I for one really liked it. For real. I did.

It is beautifully written, the words turning over and over in my head giving the entire book a fairy tale and unreal quality. The beach is a mythical place, full of juxtapositions, strong temptations and desires. The book alternates between Sam's point of view and chapters written by the Girls (mermaids) and what they know, or think they know. It reminded me a lot like a Greek chorus, a tragedy, being trapped, seeing the future, and not being able to stop it.

Depending on what you've read before, Sirens and Mermaids are usually talked about as being beautiful women who lure fishermen into the sea to drown them. Or save them. Or both. What I'm saying is that the idea itself of a mermaid, who watches over or kills men at sea, is dark, alluring and already has elements of sexism. (I don't remember a lot of stories about mermen, though they must exist, right?) We forget that the original The Little Mermaid ended quite differently than Ariel and Eric finding true happiness. We forget that HEA are not always when the couple ends up together.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brittany Moore VINE VOICE on January 19, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Sam's mother has left and so his dad decides to take them away for the summer to some remote beach. Sam doesn't mind being able to step away for awhile, but something is strange about this beach. There are girls everywhere and they are all looking at him. They also all look eerily similar. That's when Sam meets Deedee. He is fascinated by her and wants to really get to know her. Deedee doesn't seem to want to let him get that close though and Sam isn't sure what he's done to push her away. If Sam doesn't figure out what's so special about the Girls and this beach he might lose her forever.

First, let me address the big controversy surrounding this book. Sexism. I can see how some people might think this book is sexist, there is talk about women's bodies in a sexual way. Is that sexist? I don't think it is. If you changed the gender of everyone in here the story would still make sense, the characters would still be highly sexualized, but I doubt that people would get up in arms about it being sexist. Sam and his brother and silly Sebastian think about sex, a lot. They are sort of pigs the way they talk (mostly Jeff). I don't think that their, at least Jeff and Sam's, actions follow through with this. Really it's a case of Jeff trying to hard to be a Dude's Dude. He's just trying to act out what his idea of macho is and it sucks. There is lot's of talk about dicks in this book too. That's because guys have them and when they are aroused, their dicks make a big deal about it. That's how you can tell this novel was written by a guy is the fact that the boys in this novel have dicks (not that women authors don't write about men bits, but...). They're important. The other part of the sexism is that Sam's always remarking about the Girl's features. OF COURSE HE IS, THEY'RE MAGIC!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bloggers Recommend on December 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Skip this if you're squeamish about what really goes on in teen boys' brains, but get past that and you'll find an honest, reflective story about a magical lost summer and a fascinating twist on "The Little Mermaid" fairy tale. Excellent characterizations and family dynamics throughout.
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35 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Steph Sinclair on May 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Actual rating: NO STARS

I can't believe I survived. Should I laugh? Cry?

Definitely both.

Full disclosure: I went into this book with a suspicion that I might not enjoy it after my bookish twin panned it. But since I requested this book and was sent a paper ARC from the publisher, I thought I'd try to go in with an open mind and try it out.

That was probably not the best decision I've ever made in life.

It goes without saying that this review will be long, contain spoilers and quotes that might possibly make your eyes bleed. RUN WHILE YOU STILL CAN.

There are two reasons why I felt I NEEDED to have this book. (1) Just look at that cover! (2) The blurb made it sound like a fun summer read. On both of those counts I was mislead, but especially when it came to the blurb. If you think this book has romance, guess again. If you think it will keep you on the edge of your seat, guess again. If you expect this book to be coherent in any fashion, guess again!

What you will get with September Girls is an anti-climatic plot, slut shaming, gendered language, poorly represented feminism and sexism. Oh and penises. Isn't it everything you could have hoped and dreamed for in a mermaid novel?

Terrible Characters:

Okay so the book follows this boy named Sam. His mother has just left him, his brother, Jeff, and his dad for some mysterious placed called Women's Land (more on that in a bit.) Sam's dad quits his job and they journey to this strange beach that is brimming with girls. Not just any girls. Highly sexualized, blond, perky breasted, toned-bottomed, tanned girls. And guess what? They all want Sam.
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