By Siobhan Vivian
Push, $17.99, 333 pages
Homecoming season can be an anxious period for both guys and girls, but for the ladies at Mt. Washington High School, this time of year can make or break them. On the last Monday in September of each year, an anonymous poster creates a list stating which girl is the ugliest and prettiest in each grade. This list is then posted by the hundreds at Mt. Washington High School for everyone to see.
The List is Siobhan Vivian’s fourth of young adult novels primarily targeted for teen girls who are just beginning their high school years. “The list,” cautions Vivian’s narrator “can reduce an entire female population down to three clear-cut groups. Prettiest. Ugliest. And everyone else.” Vivian deftly captures the pressure put on young girls to associate their value with their looks, and the shame put on those who simply cannot live up to society’s– or their peers’–expectations. Sound nasty? It certainly is. The List is Mean Girls in a book.
However, The List is unique in that it examines the individual reaction of each girl—pretty or ugly—14 or 18—to being put on the list. Vivian reveals that there is a world behind each of the list’s cavalierly listed names: a strained relationship between sisters, an eating disorder, a popular girl with no real friends, lost virginity, emotional breakdowns. Will these eight girls live the lives society deals them, or will they choose to break the mold and become much more than a label?
Reviewed by Emily Davis