Top positive review
74 people found this helpful
Very meaningful book
on June 8, 2012
The List is a smart and provocative contemporary novel, and one that made a huge impression on me. Featuring themes like love, friendship, sisterhood, family, and anorexia, The List is a harrowing exploration of the judgements that teen girls face regarding their physical appearance and popularity, as well as the social pressure for them to be pretty, skinny, and flawless in every way. In this wonderful, thought-provoking book, Siobhan Vivian raises many important questions. And it's up to us to find the answers.
Told in alternating view points, The List takes place in Mount Washington's high school. A place that wouldn't be all that different from any other American school out there if not for one thing - its cruel annual tradition. See, every year, on the Monday preceding the homecoming, a certain list is posted all over the school. It's pinned to every board and glued to every locker, and it's practically impossible to miss. Everyone knows about this tradition and everyone is equally thrilled to find out who'll make the list this time. On the list are the names of girls that were chosen to be the prettiest and the ugliest of each grade. Chosen by who? Nobody knows. For what purpose? We can only guess. The fact is, other than blindly accepting the list, and either worshipping the girls voted the prettiest, or making the lives of the ugliest ones as miserable as possible, no one is really interested in getting to the bottom of it.
The List tells the story of eight girls who have been "voted" the prettiest and the ugliest. We get to follow each of them for one week (the one leading up to the homecoming party). We see how they react to seeing their name on the list, how it affects them, how they feel about it, what they think. Each one of the girls has a different, entirely unique story to tell, as every single one of them has a distinct personality. They each have their own voice, their own hopes, dreams, and fears. And the list does affect them in more ways than they could've ever imagined possible. Their stories intertwine with each other, painting an incredibly vivid picture of just how cruel high school life can be. How merciless and full of judgement. How completely unfair.
In her book, Siobhan Vivian explores the emotional and psychological consequences of being included on the list. She talks about beauty and its meaning, vanity, emotional abuse (bordering on bullying), morality, friendship, love, and finding one's identity. With her utterly compelling prose and excellent character development, she tackles some extremely relevant issues, from self-esteem and emotional devastation, to eating disorders and overprotective (dysfunctional) families. And she does all that with amazing sensitivity, not only perfectly capturing the dynamics and complexity of high school relationships, but also beautifully depicting all the burning emotions caused by the list. This book offers so much more than just solid plot and interesting characters. Filled with meaningful messages, important observations, fascinating conclusions, and eye-opening reflections, The List is one of the few books that have the potential to change someone's life. And just how often do you come across a book like that?
Inspired by real-life events, The List is a powerful and rewarding read, filled with stories that are just as fascinating as they are disturbing, and just as inspiring as they are sad. Honest, insightful and very thoughtful, it's a book that deserves a special place on your bookshelf. It should be appreciated and cherished, as it speaks the heartbreaking truth about modern-day society, pointing out its many flaws and weaknesses. I loved it. I'm sure you will, too!