“I can be anyone I want to be when I’m online and I don’t even have to wear makeup.”
– Sarah Darer Littman, Want To Go Private ?
Synopsis: Abby knows she’s not supposed to chat with random guys online. But Luke isn’t random, and he isn’t a stranger. Best of all, he really loves her. So what if she never goes out with her friends anymore and her grades are slipping? All she needs is Luke. Luke is her secret, and she’s his — it’s perfect that way. So when Luke suggests that they meet each other in person, Abby agrees. And then she’s gone. Missing. Without a trace. And everyone is left to put together the pieces. If they don’t, they’ll never see Abby again…
No amount of Law and Order: SVU could have prepared me for how deeply disturbing this novel was for me at times. What starts off as a cute scene of best friends arguing over whether Aragon or Legalos is cuter quickly turns into something much darker and more emotional.
The main character, Abby Johnston was very relatable. She is struggling with people around her telling her to “make an effort” and how she needs to change for her freshman year of high school. When she finds someone online who accepts her for who she is, it is hard not to see how she would be easily seduced.
As the novel goes on Abby is what is called “groomed” by her online predator. He tells her what she wants to hear to gain her trust. What is scary is Abby is not naive, she knows about online predators and still becomes a victim. This novel is for all those teens who think, I’m to smart for this to happen to me.
Darer’s character uses an almost cliched version of adolescent dialogue. Sprinkled with OMGs, likes, and pop culture references. While I find it annoying at times, I think it reinforced how young these kids are.
This is an issues novel, one of the first I’ve read in a while and I think it handles the issue remarkably. I don’t even have kids and this made me want to rip some computers out of the wall. The novel brings up some complex questions. Darer is using this novel for more than shock value and entertainment–it’s a movement. She has set up Chezteen.com and her own website as resources on the prevention of online predators.
This book is hard to suggest for young teens and tween because it is so graphic at times, yet they are the ones who need to read it. Darer has created a topical novel, that is informative and chilling.
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I’m a lifelong reader who started blogging about YA books in 2011 but now I read in just about every genre! I love YA coming of age stories, compelling memoirs and genre bending SFF. You can find me talking all things romance at Romance and Sensibility.