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September Girls Hardcover – May 21, 2013

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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: 8.3 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #231,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

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

Sam is the main character and the story is told from his POV except when it's not.
Valerie Fink
I may get some crap for saying this, but I feel like this is more of a "boy" book--not to say that girls wouldn't like it.
Rachel (Beauty and the Bookshelf)
They answered the basic questions but by the end of it all, I still felt like they lacked depth and development.
Isabel Gomez

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 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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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jill on August 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Sexist? Feminist? Blah, who cares? September Girls has inspired some extreme opinions for a book that that is the literary equivalent of a sigh.

I definitely don't consider it sexist as so many reviewers have. The characters use coarse and objective words to describe women, but it shows how this type of language and thought is indoctrinated in men and women alike. The whole book uses a sexist mermaid legend to critique patriarchy. So if the claims of sexism are deterring you from reading it, do not fret and give it a chance.


It's boring. And I think that also may have been intentional. My favorite part of the book is how it's an ode to summer. Especially a summer lived in the prime of youth. How time melts during June, July, and August and the lines between days disappear--is it Wednesday or Sunday? no matter, we'll do the same things anyway: swim, sleep, TV, walk, talk. Madison captures this languorous feeling but because of that, nothing distinguishes itself here. The book is a melancholy melody of sunburnt days and firework nights. It's realistic to those youthful summers, but the thin and often confusing plot disappears behind the limp setting.

Mostly September Girls is too subtle. I agree with many of things it says about identity and love and gender, but they are woven in so lightly that I finished the book without taking much from the experience. So I'll throw a third opinion into the September Girls reviews circus: well-written with realistic characters and important themes but ultimately uninteresting.
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30 of 44 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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