Book Blog -- THE LIST by Siobhan Vivian

Katherine Longshore Reply Tuesday, November 27, 2012
This past weekend, I went up into the mountains with my kids and my mom and sister.  I brought my computer with me, but when I got there, I decided to take a day off and read.  Just read.  It was bliss.

I brought with me Siobhan Vivian's THE LIST.  I'd been wanting to read it because the premise is fabulous - a list that has been posted at Mount Washington High School every year for as long as anyone can remember.  It's not official, but carries and official stamp.  And it lists the ugliest and the prettiest girl in every class.  No one knows who makes the list or how the dubious honor of making it is passed on.  And no one but the girls on it really thinks about how it might affect them.

I also wanted to see how Vivian managed to write from eight points of view.  She writes in third person present tense, and each chapter is a close third with one of the girls on the list.  Each character gets the same attention.  Every character is well-defined and has those bright details that make us truly "see" her.

But what made THE LIST stand out in my mind was the idea that externally imposed concepts of beauty will affect a girl.  Not just the girls who are deemed "pretty" or "ugly" but all girls.  And all boys.  And that a person who uses such terms lightly is not doing anyone any favors.

From Goodreads:

An intense look at the rules of high school attraction -- and the price that's paid for them. 

It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.

This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.

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