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Review: Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman

>>Saturday, August 13, 2011

Title: Want to Go Private?
Author: Sarah Darer Littman
Series: N/A
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 336
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: August 1st, 2011
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Rating: B

From Goodreads: Abby and Luke chat online. They've never met. But they are going to. Soon.

Abby is starting high school—it should be exciting, so why doesn't she care? Everyone tells her to "make an effort," but why can't she just be herself? Abby quickly feels like she's losing a grip on her once-happy life. The only thing she cares about anymore is talking to Luke, a guy she met online, who understands. It feels dangerous and yet good to chat with Luke—he is her secret, and she's his. Then Luke asks her to meet him, and she does. But Luke isn't who he says he is. When Abby goes missing, everyone is left to put together the pieces. If they don't, they'll never see Abby again.

Why did I read this book? Normally I don't read contemporary young adult novels becaue they don't appeal to me, but this one grabbed my attention due to its subject matter. Online targeting of kids is an important issue to me and I wanted to see how the author handled it.

Source: This book was donated to our Montreal Book Blogger meetup by the publisher and I was able to snag a copy!

My Review

This book starts off in Abby's point of view while she starts high school. She is like many teenagers who have low self-esteem, problems at home with the family, but is generally an all around good student. She doesn't do drugs or drink and she gets great grades. Even so, she is targeted and groomed online by a predator posing as someone who claims to understand her home problems and fills that void for her. Soon after, the situation escalates and the point of view switches between Abby's younger sister and her best friend. We see how lives can be disrupted and destroyed as easily as someone logging into a chat room and saying the right things to a vulnerable child.

This is a hard review to write because I can't say I enjoyed the book. It was gut-wrenching and hard to see Abby go through things that I think many young girls go through; lonliness and lack of self-confidence. However, Littman does a great job in describing the grooming process and how a star student can be made to do things she would never normally do. We also see how this effects the family and friends in the aftermath of such a situation. I believed the story that Littman told and I think a lot went into the research of writing about online predators and how they work. I really felt connected to Abby because I was a lot like her at that age and it made me think what would have happened if I had been targeted the way she was. It shows that anyone can fall prey to these online predators.

Rating: B
While the subject matter of this book can be rough and graphic at times, I think this is great book for young adults and their parents, one they could read and talk about after. It provides a gripping story and yet is informative and certainly a wake up call for parents out there. I wouldn't advise anyone sensitive to the issue of sexual assult to read this because it can be explicit.

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