This first teen chick-lit book in the "Internet Girls" series by Lauren Myracle is published by Amulet Books, an imprint of Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
TTYL is written for kids ages 13 to 17. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
As high school sophomores, Angela, Zoe and Maddie have a lot to e-mail each other about. They discuss relationships with parents, teachers, boys and the snooty girls at school — all via the Internet. As the school year progresses, each girl experiences a crisis: Angela falls for a two-timing guy; Maddie gets drunk at a party and mean girls from school catch her actions on film; Zoe gets a crush on an unscrupulous teacher. Their traumas threaten to tear apart their friendship and destroy the amazing road trip they've been planning together.
Zoe's English teacher (referred to as "Mr. H.") has a reputation as an outspoken Christian — and someone who ogles female students. Maddie tells Zoe he behaves that way because Christians are sexually repressed. In fact, Maddie rails on Christianity throughout the book, even as Zoe goes to church with Mr. H. and becomes interested in his faith. Maddie mocks everything from the "Footprints" poem to the song "Pass It On." She tells Zoe she's too smart to get caught up in Christianity and intentionally sends Zoe to a porn site called Jesus.com. In the end, Maddie and Angela have to rescue Zoe from Mr. H., who is preparing to take advantage of her in a hot tub.
Maddie's father is a drunk (who makes a crude remark while he's intoxicated about his son's girlfriend's pubic hair), and Maddie's mom seems to support his habit by buying him alcohol. Zoe's mom has over-the-top expectations of her daughter and is hard on her; she's thrilled about Zoe's teacher taking Zoe to church, but she's misjudged the situation — the teacher is actually endeavoring to seduce Zoe. Few, if any, portrayals of respectable adults can be found in TTYL.
Other Belief Systems
The girls take a quiz to determine their "planetary personalities."
Profuse uses of f--- and s----, along with many milder profanities. God's name is regularly used in vain. Profanity also occurs in the form of text-message language (OMG for Oh my god; WTF for What the f---), euphemism (such as discussions about biting a boy's hot dog), name-calling (b--ch, a--hole, etc.) and body part slang to describe breasts and male/female genitalia.
Angela kisses a guy after two dates and suggests he may be the one she'll go all the way with. When the guy Maddie likes isn't "moving fast enough" for her, she jokes to the girls that she'll do a lap dance for him or wear crotchless panties. Other sexual discussions (often graphic and crude) permeate the book.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- The 15-year-olds in TTYL drink, use fake IDs, lie to parents, gossip, swear and teeter on the edge of sexual activity. Any of those issues could be discussed in conjunction with this book. Angela convinces Zoe to stop being so good and "try whatever comes along." What is so wrong with being "good"?
- What are some possible consequences of trying whatever comes along?
- Do you know anyone like Jana (the girl who constantly stabbed her "friends" in the back)?
- What do you think of people like that?
- How can you avoid hurting others as she did?
- What is your impression of Zoe, Maddie and Angela and their discussions?
- Explain why you would or would not enjoy having girls like them as your friends. Would you consider these girls cool or shallow?
- Do you feel as though you could talk to me (your parent) if you found yourself in a predicament like Zoe was with her teacher?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.