Sunday, April 29, 2012

WANT TO GO PRIVATE? by Sarah Darer Littman

WANT TO GO PRIVATE? by Sarah Darer Littman is a hard-hitting take on the dangers of the Internet.  I'll admit my first impression was that it was overly graphic while at the same time annoyingly innocent.  Now that I've finished the book, I must retract this first reaction.

Littman plays hardball with her subject matter.  Abby's story is divided into three sections.  The first part focuses on Abby and her changing life.  She is beginning high school and is very clear about her fears.  Her best friend Faith seems to be slipping seamlessly into high school life and is making friends right and left, leaving Abby behind.  Abby's parents are increasing the pressure from home about the importance of good grades, and Abby's younger sister Lily continues to be an irritating pest.

A newly created website allows Abby to anonymously chat with random teens without the pressures she feels at school.  When Luke begins to join her in chats, she is flattered by his glowing praise and his sympathetic ear.  He invites her to "go private" and she jumps at the chance.  Abby becomes so taken with Luke that even asking her to remove her top and bra and expose herself to him, doesn't seem to be overstepping any bounds.  She remembers the warnings of countless school presentations and the words of caution from her parents, but she is convinced that Luke cares deeply for her.

Without spoiling specific story details, I'll quickly mention that the second part of the novel focuses on the other people in Abby's life and their concern for her.  The third section directs attention to the lesson to be learned from Abby's experience.

In conclusion I would like to commend Sarah Darer Littman for the approach she takes in her latest novel.  Daring to use graphic details and emphasize the naivete of our children despite lectures and precautions, Littman makes a strong and necessary statement in WANT TO GO PRIVATE.

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