Some Girls Are
by Courtney Summers
Original Publication Date: January 5, 2010
Length: 246 pages
Publisher: St. Martins Griffin
Obtained Via: Bought
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Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard—falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High… until vicious rumors about her and her best friend’s boyfriend start going around. Now Regina’s been “frozen out” and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn’t come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend… if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don’t break them both first.
Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.
I’ve read two Courtney Summers novels previously, Cracked Up to Be and This is Not a Test, and I thought both of those books were good but there was something missing that kept me from really being able to immerse myself in the book. Some Girls Are is not like that at all. Indeed, I found it so easy to fully involve myself in the story that I had particularly visceral reactions to the events of this book.
Regina Afton was part of the popular mean girl group at her high school. . . until she wasn’t. Some Girls Are opens with Regina and her friends at a party in which Regina is the designated driver. As the party winds down and Regina goes to collect her friends, she notices her best friend is passed out drunk, and her best friend’s boyfriend tries to sexually assault her. Regina manages to get away and tells another girl, but that other girl uses the situation for her own benefit and spreads a vicious rumor that Regina hooked up with the boy behind her best friend’s back.
From that point out, Regina is frozen out of her group. In many stories, Regina would simply find a new group of friends a little lower on the social ladder and while it might not be what she wanted, she’d be able to adjust, but that’s not the case in Some Girls Are. At this point in time, Regina is pretty much despised by everyone in the school. The popular crowd hates her because they think she was disloyal to her best friend. The less-popular crowd hates her because she’s made many of their lives miserable. All while this is going on, Regina’s also having to cope with the truth about what really happened that night at the party.
Some Girls Are is a harsh, harsh book. If you’ve read contemporary YA before, you’ve probably read your share of mean girls doing nasty things, but the girls in Some Girls Are are pretty much next-level bullies. At one point, the girl who knows what really happened to Regina that night and used it to her own gain locks Regina and her would-be-rapist in a supply closet together. Property is damaged. Cars are keyed. This isn’t just mean notes being passed back and forth(though that happens too), it’s an extreme case, but it still managed to feel incredibly realistic.
What makes Some Girls Are stand out is that Regina herself is a mean, cruel person–and she only stops because she’s kicked out of her clique, not because of some moral realization. She finds herself having to face victims she’s pushed to extremes before, because now they might be the only ones who understand what she’s going through. It’s an incredibly perplex dilemma that Summers manages to handle wonderfully in such a short book.
My only issue with Some Girls Are was the characterization of Regina’s bullies. At first, it made a lot of sense. I liked that the main girl who starts out tormenting Regina has a reason that has its own sort of consistent internal logic, however messed up it was. I also understood why Regina’s former best friend went along with it, because she thought Regina had tried to steal her boyfriend. All of this made sense at the beginning of the book, as well as how it escalated. However, towards the end there were a few scenes I had a lot of trouble believing that these particular characters would act that way. Namely, there’s a scene towards the end of the book where the popular girl clique literally corners Regina, holds her arms behind her back, and beats her up. This didn’t really make sense to me, because it’s such a physically violent action. To this point, the mean girl clique was cruel to the highest order, but they weren’t violent because they were more subtle than that. What they did to Regina was assault, and while I don’t think they would have any moral issue with beating Regina up because they hated her so much, I do think that they would have an issue because they knew those could be criminal counts if Regina ever told. Up to this point they had been so cunning and smart in such a twisted way that it felt like a cheap way to escalate the repercussions to me and wholly out of character with their previous actions.
Other than the issue of characterization, I thought Some Girls Are was a fantastic read. I didn’t exactly enjoy reading it, but upon finishing I did want to hand out a copy to ever teen girl I know.
Some Girls Are is a harsh and stark look at a group of girls who rule by hatred and their former clique member who finds herself on the receiving side of their bullying. It’s a book that will make you feel things, mostly unpleasant, but that is worth it just for the story and what it has to say. 4/5 cupcakes.