The List by Siobhan Vivian
Published: April 1, 2012 by Push
An intense look at the rules of high school attraction -- and the price that's paid for them. It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.
Every year a list is posted that names the prettiest girl and the ugliest girl from each grade. It is a tradition steeped in secrecy; no one knows who creates the list each year, and the school staff seems to simply ignore it, for the most part. The List follows the 8 girls added to the list from the time it is posted until homecoming one week later. Initially, it may seem like the pretty girls are going to have an easy week, but that isn't the case. Each girl, regardless of which side of the list they are on, has to reevaluate the way they see themselves, and each girl begins to be treated differently by others.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed The List. Siobhan Vivian created some magnificent characters, even if they were stereotypical. I think this emphasis on stereotypes was a bit necessary to portray the full impact of the story and the emotions. You can relate to each of the girls and empathize with them, even though you may never have experienced their situation. There was the disturbing issue of how the school faculty let this "tradition" continue, and no one seemed to have a problem with it until the new principal steps in. However, as much as we wish they didn't, things like this do go on in high schools every day. Maybe not this much of a blatant display, but it does still occur with some teachers and even principals doing nothing even when they know. There were many other issues, such as an eating disorder, which wasn't really resolved, but this story is just meant to be a snippet of their lives; we are only getting to see the initial impact of being placed on the list.
I thought this story was powerful and realistic. My daughter, who is in high school, read this book as well and also commented about how realistic it is. She thinks the creator of the list was a little predictable, but I was guessing all the way up to the reveal. Siobhan Vivian is an author that is new to me, but I am looking forward to reading more of her books. The List is one of the best YA contemporary novels I have read. I would definitely recommend it to others.
I read this almost 2 months ago as part of a SBB traveling ARC tour.
About the author:
Siobhan Vivian was born in New York City on January 12, 1979 . . . which might sound like a long time ago, but really isn’t. She grew up in Rutherford, NJ, where she got into trouble for such things as constantly talking out of turn, bringing a stray dog into school in a stolen shopping cart, passing notes to her friends, telling jokes, sneaking out, and not doing her homework.
Siobhan attended The University of the Arts, where she graduated with a degree in Writing for Film and Television. She received her MFA in Creative Writing: Children’s Literature from The New School University.
Siobhan has worked as an editor of several New York Times best-selling novels at Alloy Entertainment, a scriptwriter for The Disney Channel, and she currently teaches Writing Youth Literature at the University of Pittsburgh.