Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: Want to Go Private? - Sarah Darer Littman

Where I got it: ARC from publisher
Rating: 4 stars  
Cover Rating: 4 stars (Simple and unique. I like it.)  
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: August 1, 2011
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Page Count: 330 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon

Abby is a straight A student with one really fantastic best friend. They are about to start high school and Abby has no idea what to expect. She doesn't expect her best friend to find another friend and join drama. Abby is in no way interested in doing drama, and starts to snub her friend for awhile. She doesn't really need a friend anyway, since she started talking to Luke. Luke is a bit older than her (twice her age), but at fourteen Abby feels bold and is glad that an adult will treat her as an equal. Plus Luke totally understands Abby, better than anyone else. Abby's heard the lecture's in school about talking online with strangers, but Luke doesn't feel like a stranger. Luke loves her and is definitely not one of those creeps. So when he suggests that she runaway with him after she has a fight with her parents, she thinks it's a great idea. She doesn't tell anyone about him, or her plans, she just slips away. No one has any idea where Abby might be, but if they don't start putting clues together, they might not ever get her back.

In the same vein as Girl's Life Online) Sarah Darer Littman crafts a cautionary tale of online safety through example. Abby is a smart kid, but she's only fourteen. She may feel like she knows everything, but she doesn't. That's how online predators feed. They feed by agreeing with their victims, taking their sides and making it seem like they are two of a kind. Littman did a fantastic job at portraying Abby, you could feel her sinking lower and lower and then being temporarily lifted. Even though we now Abby is book smart, she is not worldly. She has never had a boyfriend and she only has one female friend. I can definitely see how Abby could fall for the charm of someone older who knows exactly what to say to her. This book creeped me out, I hate thinking about the fact that online predators are a very real thing. Luke wasn't particularly old and didn't look like a creep, but he's still über creepy. I didn't like when they gave a little back-story about him, because that little bit made me feel like we were supposed to feel bad for him. There are plenty of people who were abused and did not go on to abuse. It's a choice, you have free will over your own actions. I can not feel bad for someone who decided to prey on children. I do wish Abby was a bit smarter though, but I can see how she easily fell into talking with Luke. She felt like no one listened to her and that she was loosing her only friend. When Luke came online and made her feel better, I suppose it makes since that she would seek solace with him. Abby also has never been in love, so when she is told that Luke loves her, it throws her for a loop and she has no idea how to assess her own feelings in the situation. I think this is an essential book for kids to read, because as Littman pointed out, kids always hear the speeches about online safety and think this can't happen to me. I don't think this book will 100% convince them that it can, but they might keep it in their mind if they end up in a similar situation.

First Line:
"'How can you not be excited?'" 

Favorite Line:
"Where will that little piggy go next?"

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