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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*The Notebook Girls* by Julia Baskin, Sophie Pollitt-Cohen, Lindsey Newman & Courtney Toombs - young adult book review

The Notebook Girls
by Julia Baskin, Sophie Pollitt-Cohen, Lindsey Newman & Courtney Toombs
Young adult 352 pages Warner April 2006 Paperback    

“This is really our lives here, in the purest, truest, though not cleanest form.” Julia, Lindsey, Sophie, and Courtney are New York high school students with different religions, home lives, likes, and racial backgrounds who document two years of their lives in a notebook. The notebook is exchanged among the four of them (sometimes not as quickly as others would like) as a way to stay connected despite their busy lives.

There is nothing they cannot or do not share in this journal that documents many different experiences. There is at least one thing in this book that every teenager can relate to - parents, school, the opposite sex, stress. The girls write about being angry with their parents, and about how critical their parents can be. But they do share a few good times they’ve had with their parents, too.

Quite a few entries are written while in class, and these entries sometimes begin by complaining about their teachers or their workload. Talk is not limited to teachers; they dish on other students, their extra-curricular activities, potential boyfriends and girlfriends, and they reminisce about the past (Sophie and Lindsey met in their Grade 6 class, when they were in the same map-making group). Quite a few photographs and doodles are scattered through the notebook; these visual memories are a way to solidify the past. The book includes talk about exes, who in some cases don’t stay exes very long. Even when school is over for the summer, the friends (who are 15 and 16 years old) continue with the notebook.

These girls feel pressure and stress from all directions: preparing for the SAT’s; their drinking and drug experiences; and their dating and sex lives. They learn lessons - one girl learns not to have serious talks online. They debate topics (Which is worse for your health- drugs or alcohol?). They write about their feelings on the one-year anniversary of 9/11. Their school was only blocks away from Ground Zero; reporters still come to the school to interview them about 9/11.

As the girls look back and write their final entries, these four students from Stuyvesant High School, see they have grown and changed. None of them regret writing in the journal, and they are happy they have experienced all they did - together.

The four different handwritings, and all the photographs bring the notebook to life. This is a candid, honest account of four lives. Each girl often comments on what the others have written. Little one-liners are inserted into sections of the entries, often in a joking way. But the entries advise, too, and analyze. All the girls attempt to solve any problem or soothe any pain the others are feeling. In the end, they find the notebook isn’t being used as much now that they are closer. For one of the girls, the notebook is feeling like a burden to quickly pass on.

They definitely amuse each other in this book. This notebook might encourage other friends to do something similar. They will have something to look back on and a record of their lives. They can see how they have grown, and they can become better friends with each other - as happened with he Notebook Girls.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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  Tanya Boudreau/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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