Every year at Mount Washington High School, eight girls – two from each grade are singled out and place on The List, judged to be either the prettiest or the ugliest girl in their class. Siobhan Vivian delves into a topic near and dear to my heart, beauty and it’s implications, with her latest book, The List.
Abby is placed on the list as prettiest freshman, an accomplishment she is proud of but causes tension with her prodigy sister, Fern. Danielle is on swim team and has a sophomore football player boyfriend who she’s worried about because the list called her Dan The Man. Lauren is experiencing her first year at high school after being home schooled her whole life. She finds a whole new group of friends after being named prettiest in the sophomore class Candace is in shock. She’s actually not ugly, but named ugliest in her class because of her personality. Sarah is totally a non conformist and doesn’t look like any of the other junior girls and so she’s naturally named to be ugliest junior. Jennifer is a four-peat, she’s been on the list for ugliest girl four years in a row. Margo is a legacy, however, more important, there’s a history between her and Jennifer.
Despite the eight different main characters and plot threads in The List by Siobhan Vivian, I connected on various levels with each of the girls. I mean, I’ll never get on a list for ugliest or prettiest, but obviously I compare myself and care about how I look. And I could connect with how each of the girls were boiled down to nothing more than their looks. It’s interesting because every day we’re told by magazines and media, subtly, that we aren’t pretty/thin/fit/young enough and well, The List, basically takes that to the extreme. And because of that, I connected with the girls no matter where they are on the list. I mean, who wasn’t changed their meal choice because they felt they could lose a few pounds? Or when you look great and another girl knocks you down a peg? Or has ever had a boy smash your self esteem? So much of what each of the girls went through were things that I absolutely could relate to.
The List by Siobhan Vivian is a fascinating view of girls and their position in high school. There’s no boy list. I mean, no one makes a list of hottest and ugliest boys in Mount Washington High, only the girls are subject to this treatment. And we get to see the privilege pretty girls have over ugly girls. We also see that not all ugly girls are martyrs nor are all pretty girls evil. I love the reader sees the toll society’s obsession with thin can take. I think that The List should absolutely be in every young feminist’s library.
Disclosure: Received for review.