Some girls are bitches. In Courtney Summers’ compelling and disturbing YA novel Some Girls Are, calling the characters bitches is an extreme understatement. Some of these girls are psychopaths.
Regina Afton used to be one of the Fearsome Fivesome – a pack of girls led by Anna Morrison. Every high school has them, I suppose, that group of mean girls who take extreme pleasure in ruining the lives of others. That said, I don’t recall any from my high school days (yeah – okay, it was a million years ago!) and I don’t know of any at the school where I teach – at least none as venomous as this. And man, these girls are really, really awful.
The novel opens at a party where “everyone is wasted.” Everyone except Regina, that is, because it’s her turn to be the designated driver, a job she takes relatively seriously even though it’s “boring.” When she tries to rouse a passed out Anna, she encounters an obstacle of another kind: Anna’s equally intoxicated boyfriend, Donnie.
I’d turned him down in the ninth grade. Anna says we’ve been close to hate-fucking ever since, which is too gross for me to even contemplate. It’s a gunshot kind of thing for her to say – a warning. The way she says it, it’s like she can see it happening, and the way she says it lets me know I better not let it happen.
But then the unthinkable almost does happen and when Regina turns to another member of the Fearsome Fivesome for help and advice, she suddenly finds herself frozen out of the group she was once an integral part of.
The interesting thing about Regina is that she isn’t all that likeable. She’s mean. She wasn’t always mean, though. That would have to be true for readers to root for her even a little bit, but her exterior is so prickly it takes a while to warm up to her. Like, a long while. And I found that interesting. She’s an anti-hero.
Life becomes almost unbearable for Regina once Anna and Kara, Regina’s replacement, get going. It’s not just covert tactics they employ to ostracize Regina – they humiliate her, physically abuse her and truly make her life a living hell. Regina has no allies because when she was part of the clique, she’d been horrible to just about everyone in the school.
I’m used to everyone’s eyes on me; that’s nothing new. When you’re Anna Morrison’s best friend, people look. We’re the kind of popular that parents like to pretend don’t exist so they can sleep at night, and we’re the kind of popular that makes our peers unable to sleep at night. Everyone hates us, but they’re afraid of us, too.
There’s really no relief for Regina until Michael Hayden – one of her former victims – slowly lets her into his life. And with his friendship comes Regina’s redemption.
Okay, I’m a teacher – I know that the vast majority of teens aren’t like the people portrayed in this book – but some of them are. Some teenagers are nasty, messy, insecure, and hateful. And hopefully some of those will, like Regina, have the opportunity to make amends for the damage they do.
Some Girls Are crackles with real energy and I couldn’t put it down.