Wednesday, October 13, 2010

ttyl by Lauren Myracle

Published by Scholastic, 2004.

I read this because it was mentioned in a blog post about banned books, back in early October. Also because it was the first YA book published in instant-messaging style, and I wanted to see how an author could develop a story through this medium.

On paper it sounds like a great idea. But I didn't like this book. It annoyed me. Am I too old now to find it endearing? Perhaps. But I found the three main characters - 'the winsome threesome' - grating and shallow and sometimes just plain silly (well, I liked Zoe a little bit). Yes, I applaud Myracle for capturing the IM style of writing, and the vernacular of the girls, and for having them talk about sometimes completely random things that I remember typing to my own friends when I was in high school. But I cringe now thinking back to some of those messages, and I cringed when I was reading this book. How they expressed themselves made me feel embarrased for them. The candid nature of the book is supposedly why it originally got banned. It's not that bad, trust me. But it left me with a different sort of unpleasant taste in my mouth.

ttyl's blurb says, 'told entirely in instant messages, this smart, funny novel is about the humour, hangovers, and heartaches of high school, and the friendships that get you through it all.' My problem is I didn't feel the heartache; I didn't feel the emotional brevity of these supposedly 'big' events. The book kind of felt like it was about nothing in particular except a day in the life of a normal teenage girl. Props for achieving that, but a story needs something more. It needs to feel 'bigger' than normal life, and ttyl, in my opinion, doesn't.

For a story about friends, I also didn't feel the close bond these girls had. It takes more than declarations like 'we'll always have each other' and 'we'll stay true blue 4ever' to establish a friendship.

'Will the winsome threesome make it through the year?' Frankly, I didn't really care.

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