do you see that book in my daughter’s hand? looks cute doesn’t it? OF COURSE IT DOES- ALL EVIL LOOKS CUTE if you dress it in plaid.
aah, The Clique series of teen girl lit is out on a book shelf near you. it is focused on status, revenge, girl hatred, chasing boys, and shopping for upper end clothing and accessories ... millie ‘s words and i am sure every middle school girl’s words... “but mom, ALL my friends are reading it” (yeah, yeah, we all know that speech, heck i GAVE that speech hundreds of time to my mom mostly followed with her famous “if all your friends jumped off of a bridge, would you do it too?”)
millie really snuck it up on me with this though. last week she lulled me into a false sense of calm because she was reading “pride and prejudice” and i thought that she was hooked on the classics and would now become elizabeth bennett for the 2000’s. of course, that would make me mrs. bennett, UGH.
imagine my fellow austin lovers, if those horrible bingley sisters had formed a clique based on money and power and the great purses they owned and not let elizabeth or jane in and then elizabeth changed everything she was and held dear and sunk her family into debt and did really cruel things to jane, who she refers to as a LBR “loser beyond repair”- a clique term, just to join the “pretty committee” JUST to get the guys and at the end she gets mr. bingley to dance with her at the party she threw with her parent’s money and thus she wins and jane is poor and crying and that is okay because jane isn’t important (remember she is a LBR), what is important in this book is that elizabeth has won and shopped her way into the clique. and the book is now called “diss the darcy”. that is the clique story in a nutshell (and with bigger words than they use in the book).
it all began a week ago... we were carpooling some of millie’s friends and they were all talking about the latest Clique book- the one with the title “Sealed with a Diss”. the one girl was almost at the end of the book and i decided to spoil it for her by informing her that they all died in the end because they had formed a clique and they deserved to die.
“they don’t die” she said, “there is another book after this called “Bratfest at Tiffany’s”. i followed that with, “oh, yes, they all die. the new sequel will be called ‘Diss and Die’, and the one after that will be called ‘kiss a boy and be killed’ and then comes ‘shopping is for losers’.
hmmm- i think i will start writing teen chick lit, i feel that i have a real knack for it- at least coming up with better titles than the Clique series, which can boast of these witty titles...
best friends for never,
invasions of the boy snatchers,
the pretty committee strikes back , and
it’s not easy being mean.
of course in these books it is amazingly easy to be mean, and amazingly easy for teen girls to swallow up these lies packaged in plaid as the TRUTH about what happens in their schools. and this is the heart of the problem i have with these books...
the girls in my carpool said “these books show exactly what middle school is like, mrs. marshall”. so of course, i picked one up that day and read it (i didn’t want to be caught unprepared if millie brought one home AND i wanted to know what these girls thought middle school was like). in the 15 minutes it took me to read the stunning work of CRAP that this book contains, i decided that there was NO way my daughter was going to read this book.
and it wasn’t the bad language, the non-existent plot, the lack of character development, the fact that parents or authority figures are dismissed or non existent to these girls, it wasn’t the revenge and mean things done to other girls are seen as cool and fun, or the fact that every middle school girls sees their biggest goal as getting a boy to look at them and like them that bothered me the most (those all bothered me, don’t get me wrong). it was the world view presented, subtle but sure, that made me seethe and want to diss these books to anyone who will listen or read this blog.
in the clique books money makes for right and power, people change who they are, abandon their ideals all to be in the in crowd and to shop and wear the best because that is the ultimate good. girls steal other girls boyfriends by wearing sexy clothes and flirting or flashing a little bit of chest area. YES, these are MIDDLE SCHOOL GIRLS doing this, all while carrying $800 prada purses. and yes, the name brands of their clothes are mentioned SO often that i felt like i was reading a magazine and seeing advertisements every page. i am sure that the author gets kickbacks from these products because it seems like every girl reading this who bought into this worldview would be running out with daddy’s credit card to purchase some of these items to secure her future in a clique.
so, then the unthinkable happened...
millie came home with the book. now our standard is “ask mom before you read a new book” and when she asked me, i was stunned. i really thought she would not be interested in reading these. but i took a minute and after a long sigh and a preliminary “really, you really want to read that crap?” entry speech (just so she knew where i stood on my position AND because i was too stunned to couch my words in a more appropriate manner). i decided to let her forray into it a bit- with caveats, of course (all thanks to debbie pittman’s teen parenting strategy)...
here was the marshall plan for Clique reading that i presented to millie...
there is PREFERENCE- i would prefer that you not read the books at all. that you trust me totally to know what is in these books and trust my judgement on this.
there is STANDARD- if you decide to start reading this book, then the standard will be that you will read it with this verse printed out on an index card and measure the things in this book to this Bible verse as you read.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
and for every minute spent reading the book, you commit to 2 minutes spent in Bible study and prayer.
there is SIN- to read these books not as outlined in the standard setting OR to sneak and read these books without my knowledge would be sinning.
millie choose to go with the STANDARD plan. i would have preferred the preference plan (hence the name of the plan), but i was hopeful that she would see the lies for what they were and that all her classical literature training would make this book taste like sawdust in her mind.
15 minutes later, she came out of her room and plopped on the couch book in hand (but closed). she sat down and made the very eye roll that is in the photo (she recreated it later for the photo) and said the words that every mom loves to hear...
“you were right, this is crap”.
now not every mom loves to hear the word crap come out of here darling daughter’s mouth, but in this case, it was the sweetest crap i had ever heard spoken. it was the crap of angels singing. it was like a chocolate sundae crap.
millie proceeded to tell me a few things from the book that had made her see the truth and we talked about how dangerous this world view was for girls and how sad she is that all her friends read this and are learning to see the world this way. we discussed the characters and how they differ from strong girl role models from books like “the little princess”, “little women”, and “pride and prejudice”. it was a great discussion and i am so glad that i let her choose and gladder still that she proved trustworthy.
so we are done with “the clique” at our house. which gives us much more time for shopping for $800 prada purses.
oh, and don’t forget... I WAS RIGHT. ahh, that feels good.