if there was some manual
some little book where a girl could look up
what to do
what not to do
and who not to do it with."
Every high school seems to have at least one guy who catches the eyes of many girls . . . and proceeds to date as many of them as possible. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone revolves around one such serial dater who may be nice to look at but is a very naughty boyfriend.
The story, told in poems, moves along very quickly. Reluctant readers and poets are likely to pick it up for that reason. The first-person narration is shared by three very different girls: sweet freshman Josie, wild Nicolette, and aspiring guitarist Aviva. Each dates the bad boy; each gets burned. The poetry style alters with each girl. Josie is a thinker, so her poems are full of secret thoughts and hopes. Nicolette is the boldest of the girls, unafraid to go after what she wants, so she says want she feels. Aviva is a self-proclaimed Criss-Crosser, meaning she hangs out with all different groups at school, and her words are straightforward.
It is Josie, the first narrator and the youngest of the three, who decides to warn other girls at her school about the boy. She realizes that she was not the first girl he dated and dissed. She writes an open letter in the school library's copy of Forever by Judy Blume, knowing that her peers will check it out. Instead of performing an act of vengeance, like slashing his tires, she uses a famous book about growing up to empower herself and to spread the word to others. It is always nice to see a book mentioned within another book, if done well, and Forever is the perfect choice for this story.
Due to this book's subject matter and romantic situations, I would recommend it to teens in high school, say ages 15 and up. Like Forever, it will definitely raise eyebrows. Also like Forever, parents will use it to establish an open dialogue with their teenagers, and young women will discuss it with friends.
Girls should realize that they have to respect and love themselves first before trying to find those things in or from someone else. I opened with a quote from the book; I'll close with lyrics by Vanessa Carlton, from her song Rinse:
"But everything happens for reasons that she will never understand
'Til she knows that the heart of a woman will never be found in the arms of a man."
Like this book review?
Give it a "yes" vote!
See all of my Amazon reviews.
Check out my exclusive interview with Tanya Lee Stone.