Saturday, September 3, 2011

Writing lessons learned from A BAD BOY CAN BE GOOD FOR A GIRL

BAD BOY, by Tanya Lee Stone, was a quick, powerful read. I blew through it in one afternoon. This is the first novel in verse that I've read, and although it took me a few pages to get used to the style, I soon became comfortable with it and enjoyed the story.

From Goodreads: Josie, Nicolette, and Aviva all get mixed up with a senior boy--a cool, slick, sexy boy who can talk them into doing almost anything he wants. In a blur of high school hormones and person doubt, each girl struggles with how much to give up and what to ultimately keep for herself. A bad boy may always be a bad boy, but this bad boy is about to meet three girls who won't back down.

Here's what I learned from this book:
  1. Economy of words = major impact. The book begins, "I'm not stuck up. I'm confident. There's a big difference." So much voice and character in those three lines. The author didn't waste words on unnecessary scenery or backstory.
  2. Choose a title that asks a question that begs to be answered. Throughout the entire book I kept wondering how in the heck a bad boy, this guy who is awful to these girls, could possibly be good for them. That alone kept me glued to the pages, and the ending didn't disappoint.
  3. Tie a current book into the plot. In this case it was Forever by Judy Blume. One of the scorned girls uses the pages of this book to warn other girls about the bad boy, which I think is something teens can relate to. And besides, I've never read Forever and now I must!
  4. If done right, sex in YA can be a powerful tool. (Insert sex joke here). But seriously, in this book, sex serves a unique purpose. I'd imagine many teen readers related to what these characters went through.
Libba Bray wrote the following: "Meet Josie, Nicolette, and Aviva--three girls who've got something to tell you that you definitely want to hear. Tanya Lee Stone has written a book that's crawl-under-the-skin true, filled with humor, hope, and a little heartbreak, and the kind of tell-it-like-it-is wisdom that comes from your best girlfriends. It's irresistible."

What do you think of the above points? And if you've read this book, what was your opinion?

19 comments:

  1. haven't read it but now I want to, along with Forever. Thanks :)

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  2. Wow, Julie. I really want to read this now!Economy of words really do bring out voice imo, and that is something I'm working on constantly! Read Forever ages ago...think I'll read it again:)

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  3. For one thing, now I really want to read this book! And, OMG you have to drop everything and read Forever right now!!! :-)

    I LOVE those first three lines. You are so right about how keeping it short can keep it powerful.

    Great post!

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  4. I haven't read Forever in - well - forever (sorry!) but I remember it as a great book, so anything that references it is worth a look as far as I'm concerned :-)

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  5. I have read A Bad Boy... and I really enjoyed it. Yes, it was so powerful and especially as you say in its economy of words. At the time, my daughter was only 13 and I didn't really want her to read it quite yet (not that I'd have stopped her if she discovered it on her own.) But now at 14, I guess I'd be okay with it. The only thing I questioned was whether or not it would be the sex scenes or the message that would be more memorable for a teen reader. I'm still not sure.

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  6. This is my favorite verse novel. Very powerful reading too. This is a good example of taking a topic (sex) and putting it in perspective without preaching.

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  7. Great review, Julie. And you must read Forever! I will never forget when that book went around in 7th grade with "certain pages" dog-eared. A friend passed it to me to read, then a guy friend nearby laughed uproariously when my face turned a bright red!

    Ah, middle school memories! :-)

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  8. I'm ashamed to say I had never heard of it!! *hides head* But with backing from both you and Libba Bray, how can I NOT read it??

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  9. I hadn't heard of it but I've really enjoyed the verse novels I've read so far. :)

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  10. I love what you do… thx for doing it.

    I have not read the book, yet, I don’t agree with all the points. Sex in YA, sounds risky to me… I know I wouldn’t want me kid to read that, but that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t.

    I tend to more old school, sadly that might hurt me in the long run.

    Great post!

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  11. Sounds like a really intriguing story line - I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the tip. :)

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  12. Agree. Curiosity and good writing make this sound awesome.

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  13. This is the first I've heard of the book and now I HAVE to read it. I think sex is so prevalent in teen culture nowadays that it is almost a disservice to ignore or avoid it in YA lit. especially when it is handled as authentically as it is in FOREVER.

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  14. This book sounds absolutely fascinating. I'll admit, I've never read a novel in verse, but I feel like I should pick this one up!

    I love your point about economy of words. Fewer words can often say something much more powerfully than a long, winding paragraph.

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  15. Thank you for sharing a fascinating book! I'm looking forward to reading it. I, too, have never read a book in verse... but always up to something new! Thanks so much!

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  16. The books sounds cool, especially the title.

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  17. You have me really intrigued! I love your advice on picking a title that implies a question that begs to be answered.

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