The List

It's hard to say how many real-life high schools make a tradition of ranking the beauty of their female students, but in Siobhan Vivian's (Not that Kind of Girl) fictional America, such ranking has been epidemic for years. Though it's a great framing device, in lesser hands, it could be unrealistic enough to make the whole story seem improbable. The List, however, is smart, funny and genuine.

Eight girls appear on the titular List, two from each class: one the ugliest, the other the prettiest. Nobody knows who chooses it, but it's posted with snarky commentary every year before Homecoming. Vivian deftly moves among the viewpoints of the octet, allowing readers a glimpse into their lives, as well as how they view each other. The driving action is the lead-up to Homecoming and the new principal's search for whoever makes the list, but the plot really moves forward through the ways in which each girl handles her newfound (or in some cases, continued) fame, and how that affects her friendships and life at school and home.

The novel deals with a number of issues common to high school--mean girls, eating disorders, boyfriends, identity crises--but Vivian excels in creating characters who go beyond the cookie-cutter archetypes. Each girl is individual enough that it's hard to predict what will happen, and the ending is satisfying and surprising. Teens will enjoy this fast, intelligent read that reflects their daily struggles while helping them poke a little fun, too. --Stephanie Anderson (aka Bookavore), manager of WORD bookstore

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