Every year at Mount Washington High, before Homecoming, a list of eight girls is posted anonymously featuring the prettiest and ugliest girl in each grade. These girls become the center of attention, for better or worse.
Abby Warner is delighted with her newfound fame, but it’s overshadowed by her older sister’s resentment. Lauren Finn is stunned, as she has been a loner thus far, having been homeschooled up to this point. She’s suddenly bombarded with friends and doesn’t know whether to be wary or joyous. Bridget Honeycutt takes this acknowledgment as validation of what she believed was a worrisome way to lose weight this summer. While Margo Gable is pleased but is haunted by how she got there.
Danielle Demarco is stunned and hurt, but far more worried about what her boyfriend will think. Candace Kincaid is angered at the pure ridiculousness of the label, as she is one of the most attractive girls in school. Sarah, who is always rebellious, decides to push the label in the school’s snotty faces. And Jennifer, the only four-time choice in all of Mount Washington High’s history, has come to just be glad of the attention.
Each of these eight girls faces a struggle of self-identity, self-esteem, and the judgment of their peers. And none of them will ever be the same.
The List is an exceptionally powerful novel that has an appalling, yet wretchedly believable, premise. It’s sad and fascinating to follow how each girl reacts to her placement. We get to see a vivid bit of every girl’s life and how the news shapes things. It’s raw. It’s warm. It’s excruciating.
There’s a level of anticipation and suspense of finding out some of these girl’s pasts and secrets, as well as nervousness as to seeing where they’ll end up. Siobhan Vivian masterfully creates eight three-dimensional students, each with their own set of worries, insecurities, and issues. It peels back the veil behind the labels of “pretty” and “ugly” and shows us so much more.
The List is mesmeric to read – I was glued, astounded, and on the edge of my seat the entire time. It’s heartbreaking and intimate with touching moments of family/friends intuition and love. Plus, there’s a huge, shocking revelation that somehow brings even more depth and psychological integrity to The List.
And then the profound, superb end…
Really, The List has to be one of my favorite contemporary fiction novels this year so far. It’s a must-read for all ages.