Sunday, February 15, 2009

ttyl (2004)

I borrowed a copy of Lauren Myracle's ttyl (2004) from one of the librarians at work, who bought it after it was banned from the Round Rock middle school libraries last year so she could see what all the fuss was about. I was also interested in investigating the fuss, as well as curious as to how engaging (or annoying) a novel written entirely in instant messages could be.

While it is occasionally more annoying than engaging, and sometimes the dialogue rings a little false, for the most part Myracle has constructed a nice novel exploring the politics of high school, the freakiness of adolescence, and the importance of good friends. The IM conversations are a clever gimmick for the book, one that mostly works, although it is sometimes more like an adult writing the way she thinks teenagers would write than the way they would actually write themselves: for example, everything is spelled correctly (except when one girl gets drunk at a frat party and comes home to type about it) and while a handful of abbreviations are used consistently -- mostly u and ur -- most things are spelled out.

As far as all the "fuss" goes, there are some curse words in the book -- although not nearly as much as you would expect from high school sophomores, and nothing worse than shit. None of the girls actually have sex, although they do talk (and joke) about it a lot. Some of the conflicts of the book read a bit like an after school special (high school teacher flirting with girl! racy pictures from a party emailed to everyone in the school! popular girl is mean then nice then mean!), but the informal and first person nature of the instant messages cuts the drama a little and lets the issues be explored in a relatively realistic and sensitive manner.

So: totally not as bad as I thought it would be, and worth picking up if you like young adult lit and are interested in what the kids are up to these days...

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